Nepal urges USA to Extend Preferential Trade Programme

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Nepal urges USA to Extend Preferential Trade Programme

May 21: The Government of Nepal has requested the United States to continue the facilities it has been providing for Nepali goods even after being upgraded from the least developed country to a developing country in 2026. Nepal made such a request at the sixth meeting of the Nepal-US TIFA Council held in Kathmandu on Friday.

The US has granted duty-free entry to 77 items of Nepal under the Nepal Trade Preference Programme (NTPP). The program was introduced after the devastating earthquake of 2015 with the aim of supporting the economic recovery of Nepal. The 10-year program will expire in 2025.

Nepal will be graduating into a developing country from LDC in 2026. It is estimated that the facility provided by the US will be lost after gaining the status of a developing country. Stakeholders are concerned that it will be difficult for Nepali products to compete in the American market after the loss of the facility and the exports will decrease. Addressing the TIFA Council meeting, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Ramesh Rijal urged the US to continue the cooperation.

“We have sought duty-free market access and flexible trade rules for a few years even after graduation from LDC,” said Minister Rijal.

According to Minister Rijal, TIFA will prove to be a milestone in bringing trade and investment relations to new heights.

Madhu Kumar Marasini, secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, expected the US support to continue after the LDC graduation, keeping in mind the needs of Nepal.

He said, “It is necessary to make our process of transformation from a least developed to a developing nation smooth, sustainable and irreversible. For that, emphasis should be placed on technology cooperation and economic partnership.”

Currently, IT, hydropower, digital economy, service and trade are the areas of potential. As the construction of the transmission line undertaken by the US-funded MCC has facilitated infrastructure development, efforts should be made for investment in other areas as well, said Marasini.

Brendan Lynch, US Trade Representative for South and Central Asia said that the improvement in trade and investment relations should benefit the people of both the countries.

“In recent years, Nepal-US bilateral trade relations have been increasing. It is positive. Now there should be more improvements in trade and investment relations to benefit the people of both the countries,” said Lynch, adding, “Due to its special relationship with Nepal, the United States has conducted the Nepal Trade Preference Program only for Nepal.”

Sridhar Khatri, the Nepalese ambassador to the USA said that Nepal should benefit from NTPP. He said, “Nepal should have benefited a lot from this US initiative. It is a matter of concern that this didn’t happen.” Khatri said that NTPP covers only less than 3 percent of Nepal's exports to the US and urged the US to improve the current provision.

US Ambassador to Nepal Donald Thompson said that Nepal is in top priority of the US. America is investing about 1.5 billion dollars in Nepal in the next five years through USAID, MCC, Development Finance Corporation and other partnership plans.

Thompson said, “This should be understood as Nepal being a top priority for America. We want to see more American companies, investors and high-quality American goods and services available in Nepal. For this, a good investment policy, appropriate environment and support from the private sector are needed.”

The meeting focused on Nepal's priority business programs, investment environment, digital economy, technical assistance, agricultural, trade and upgrading from LDC.


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