Nepal-India IGC meeting (Dec 21-22)
Secretary of Commerce and Supplies Madhav Regmi and his Indian counterpart S R Rao inked the agreement at the end of the meeting.
Most of the points agreed are crucial for promoting Nepal´s international trade, including with India -- the largest trading partner -- at a time when Nepal has been suffering an ever-increasing trade deficit.
"The meeting was quite constructive in balancing the trade between the two countries. We discussed extensively on increasing trade in goods and services as well as boosting bi-lateral investment," Rao told the media after the meeting.
Rao also expressed readiness to extend any possible support including technical to Nepal to enhance Nepal´s international trade. "We are ready to support [Nepal] in boosting trade not only with India but other countries by easing supply constraints of Nepal," said Rao.
He also suggested to Nepal to increase domestic manufacturing and promote hydropower to push the export volume to bring down the trade deficit.
Nepali commerce secretary Regmi also said the trade officials of both the sides have been successful in thrashing out the longstanding trade issues and pave the way for increased trade in favor of both the neighbors.
The two-day Inter-governmental Committee (IGC) meeting was held after a two-year gap since the last bi-lateral talks held in New Delhi in December 2011. Upon the request by Nepali officials, the Indian side has agreed to open the Jagbani-Biratnagar and Sunauli-Nautanawa-Bhairawa routes for Nepal´s third country trade. Currently, Nepal has been allowed to use only Raxual-Birgunj route for overseas trade.
Similarly, Indian officials also agreed to allow Nepal to bring imported vehicles ´on their own power´ from the Kolkata port and continue the existing provision of using only wagons or containers to transport such vehicles to Nepal.
A press statement issued at a press conference stated that the Indian side also agreed to allow export of third country goods [which are imported for different purposes to Nepal] through the Indian territory.
Until now, different goods and equipment brought to Nepal for various purposes including for trade fairs and development projects cannot be sent back to the countries of origin due to a provision in the existing Nepal-India Transit Treaty.
In the meeting, Nepali side has agreed to waive the five percent Agriculture Reform Fee (ARF) on the imports of Indian farm products at the time Nepal finds suitable.
Nepali officials were also able to convince the Indian delegation for continuing the existing customs duty on the import of Indian cement and clinkers stating that any reduction on customs duty will affect the Nepali cement industry.
Similarly, both the sides have also agreed to remove difficulties in quarantine certification of exportable goods from both the countries, and activate additional customs points by upgrading the customs infrastructure.
At Nepal´s request, India has also agreed to allow Nepali traders to import ´milch cattle breed with proven sire index´.
In a bid to simplify, economize and make comfortable the trans-shipment of third country cargoes to Nepali border via Kolkata, both sides also agreed to develop an appropriate modality.
The meeting also decided to take initiative to speed up the process to implement the past agreements. Similarly, responding to the request from Nepali side, Indian officials also agreed to resolve the problems in exporting Nepali books and newspapers to the southern neighbor.
In the meeting officials of both the countries have introduced the agenda of investment promotion and concerns of private sector in an effort to boost bi-lateral trade.