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Commerce secretaries of Nepal and Bangladesh in parleys to narrow down trade imbalance

SARACHCHANDRA BHANDARY
With an objective of finding ways and means to narrow down trade imbalance with Bangladesh and enhance bilateral trade, high-ranking officials of Nepal and Bangladesh are holding an intensive parley in capital.
The Nepali officials are attaching top priority to early resumption of smooth export of acrylic yarn to Bangladesh that had been barred since 2002, in the fourth Nepal-Bangladesh Commerce Secretary-level meeting that concluded last week.
The eighteen-point agenda of the meeting include reviewing of progress of the agreed minutes of the 3rd Nepal-Bangladesh Commerce Secretary- Level meeting held in Dhaka,
Finalizing operational modalities for the carriage of transit cargo between Nepal and Bangladesh and reviewing list of duty free/preferential market access and settling implementation of their modalities is also one of the agenda of the meeting.
The two sides will dwell upon agreement of regulation of motor vehicles passenger traffic (Dhaka-Kathmandu Bus Service), removal of high tariff and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and simplification of administrative procedures on primary and manufactured goods.
Likewise, formation of Joint Group of Customs Officials between Nepal and Bangladesh, tri-lateral transit agreement among Bangladesh, Indian and Nepal, harmonization of SPS and TBT standard between competent authorities of Bangladesh and Nepal are top on the agenda.
Similarly, issuance of ‘On Arrival Visa’ for the Nepali citizens at both land and air routes, long-term visa for the Nepal citizens studying in Bangladesh and bilateral arrangements of long- term business visa for the investors and business persons of Nepal and Bangladesh are being discussed.
Discussions will also be held in the meeting on simplification for the export procedures of pharmaceutical products both in Nepal and Bangladesh, tourism promotion, exploring air connectivity between Biratnagar/Bhadrapur of Nepal and Saiyadpur (Rangpur) of Bangladesh, participation in international trade fair of each other country, Nepal- Bangladesh cooperation in hydropower, cooperation between Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and public trading corporation of Nepal including Salt Trading Corporation and signing of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) between the two countries.
The leader of Nepali delegation and Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Chandra Kumar Ghimire, referring to the vision of Prime Minister KP Oli, ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ said Nepal had embarked on the path of rapid economic growth following the political transformation.
He urged the Bangladeshi authorities to consider for unhindered access of Nepali products like tea, coffee, large cardamoms, ginger, herbal products, broom, fresh vegetables, apples, oranges, yarn, lentils, cutch, vegetable seed, pashmina, handicraft, among others to Bangladeshi market.
Due to increasing tariff and non-tariff barriers in Bangladeshi market, Nepali products are facing obstacles. He was seeking his counterpart’s positive intervention to it.
Shedding light on potential of bilateral trade and cooperation, he stated, “Nepal and Bangladesh are yet to harness benefits in trade, transit, investment, tourism, agriculture, hydropower and other sectors that are equally advantageous to the economy and people of both sides.”
Despite enormous potentials of trade, the bilateral trade between Nepal and Bangladesh stands at US $ 50 million only. According to Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, in the fiscal year 2016/17, Nepal’s export to Bangladesh was equivalent to US$ 10 million while its import from Bangladesh was US $ 40 million.
The top official from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport are taking part in the 22 member delegation led by Secretary Ghimire.
Other members of Nepali delegation include Director Generals from the Department of Immigration, Department of Drug Administration, Department of Industry, Department of agriculture, Department food technology and Quality Control, Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology, Department of Customs, Department of Commerce, Embassy of Nepal, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Trade and Export promotion Center, Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board, Nepal Transit and Warehousing Company Limited, Salt Trading Corporation Limited.
The 11 member Bangladeshi delegation is led by Shubhashish Bose, Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladeshi Ambassador to Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams and high-ranking officials from Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Tariff Commission, Ministry of Roads, Transport and Bridges, Export Promotion Bureau, among others.

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