Features of Nepal Trade Integration Strategy 2023

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Features of Nepal Trade Integration Strategy 2023

BY Krishna Raj Bajgain

Government of Nepal has recently released the Nepal Trade Integrated Strategy (NTIS) 2023 with an ambitious target of increasing the ratio of trade and gross domestic product to 55 percent in FY 2084/85 from 48.1 percent FY 2078-79 and the ratio of exports of goods and services to GDP to 20 percent in FY 2084/85 from 6.3 percent in 2078-79. Total cost of Rs 4 trillion 63 billion 250 million 720 thousands has been estimated to implement the NTIS 2023.

Goods and services were selected based on a weighted approach, with 0.35 point emphasis given to the global demand index and 0.65 point to the export performance index. Among the top 50 highest-scoring items, potential exportable products have been categorised into three broad classes: existing export potential products, emerging products, and products with future export potential. The existing potential export products have been further categorised into four main groups: agriculture, forestry, large industry, and small and medium-sized industries.

Products such as cardamom, ginger, pulses, jute, and tea have been listed in the agriculture category, while the forest category lists products like herbs and aromatic plants, rosin and turpentine, as well as handmade paper made from Lokta. 

Similarly, the large industry category encompasses products like iron and steel, yarn and textiles, and ready-made garments, while products like carpets, jewellery, pashmina, pasta, and felted wool products of SMEs have been prioritised in the NTIS-2023.

Products like essential oils, Himalayan spring water, vegetables, fruits and their processed ingredients, spices (cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, saffron, cumin, pepper, and bay leaves), handicraft, fibre and textiles made from Allo and hemp, coffee, cement, Churpi (hardened cheese) and honey have been listed as emerging export potential products in NTIS-2023.

Looking to the future, products with export potentials include hydrogen energy, precious stones, and stones and stone products. As part of the strategy, there's a recommendation to amend certain existing laws to legalise the export of hemp for medicinal purposes.

Likewise, tourism, information technology and internet-based services, hydroelectricity, construction services, as well as skilled and semi-skilled labour services have been identified as the most lucrative services with highest export potentials. 

To ensure the effective implementation of these provisions, NTIS recommends a restructuring of the current organisational setup. This includes the establishment of Service Trade Promotion Institutes and a Market Intelligence and Export Promotion Section within the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies.

A 21-member National Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supply has also been proposed to carry out the tasks assigned by the Government of Nepal along with the mentioned task of implementing, monitoring and evaluating the provisions of the strategy. 

In essence, the latest version of the NTIS seems to be more practical and implementable in comparison to the previous strategies. 

(Bajgain is a Senior Offi cer with the Trade & Export Promotion Center. The views expressed here are his personal.)

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