Towards clearing its trade gap with India, Nepal is currently gearing up for the upcoming Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) meeting between the commerce secretaries of Nepal and India, in March 2018.
Addressing the key challenges, Nepal is keen on placing trade barriers on top of its meeting agenda as a solution to long-standing issues in bilateral and third country trade between the two countries.
Nepali officials are more likely to raise issues pertaining to the railway service agreement, inter-bank transaction, bulk cargo, quarantine check, along with export concerns on agriculture, medicinal and garment products, among others as part of the discussion.
Nepali trade consignments of agricultural and medicinal products have been facing challenges owing to the lack of needed certification.
Nepali officials are also planning to pitch for a flexible policy for quarantine certification.
“We will be urging India to set up an integrated quarantine check system to facilitate exports of Nepali agro products to India,” says Rabi Shankar Sainju, Spokesperson, Ministry of Commerce Nepal.
According to Sainju, Nepal has been facing sever challenges with regard to quarantine certification despite the presence of its quarantine labs at major customs points across the Indo-Nepal border.
“However, lack of experts at the quarantine labs is one of the major setbacks that Nepal has been facing in trading agro products,” Sainju adds.
With regard to cargo shipment, Sainju informed that the ministry has already started working on the implementation of the electronic cargo tracking system.
“Importers have already started installing the system on a voluntary basis, and the ministry has planned to launch the system as a pilot project soon,” informed Sainju.
According to the Ministry, India has also agreed to Nepal’s request to allow the bulk cargo system at another three entry points: Jogbani-Biratnagar, Rupaidiya-Nepalgunj and Sunauli-Bhairahawa.
“The Indian side said it had started official procedures to review Nepal’s proposal,” noted the ministry.
Easing trade, Nepal is also planning to request India to ease cross-border banking services for the traders, and also introduce a compliance for the same.
While Nepali officials keen on holding the meeting as planned, the Indian officials are yet to confirm the same, says Sainju.
Last hosted in New Delhi in June 28-29, 2016, the IGC meeting under the Nepal-India trade treaty aims to resolve various trade-related concerns and enhancement of bilateral trade between the two countries.