Indo-Nepal economic pact in pipeline
Sep 23 (IANS) A new economic pact between India and Nepal
is in the pipeline with its seeds sown during Nepal's new
Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda's maiden
official visit to India earlier this month.
Ramesh, the Indian minister of state for commerce and power,
who is in Kathmandu on a three-day visit to attend a major
Indo-Nepal power summit, told the media Tuesday that he would
be holding talks with Nepal's Commerce and Supplies Minister
Rajendra Mahato over the new Comprehensive Economic Partnership
Agreement that India wants to sign with its neighbour.
agreement proposes to bring trade, services and investment
under the same ambit and is likely to be the first agreement
between New Delhi and Kathmandu's new Maoist-led government.
has a similar agreement with Singapore," Ramesh said.
"Negotiations are also on to sign similar agreements
with Sri Lanka and Mauritius."
this month, Prachanda headed a 44-member delegation to India
on a five-day visit during which he discussed the pact with
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
mid-October, Nepal's commerce secretary will visit New Delhi
to attend the meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission
that will take forward the parleys between the two prime ministers
and discuss the establishment of a joint study group to come
up with a draft of the agreement.
said the draft could take 18-24 months while the agreement
could be inked in two to three years.
"In the long run, investment will run our bilateral
relationship," said the Indian minister, who is in Nepal
to encourage power trade between the two neighbours. "It
will also be the only way in which Nepal can manage its trade
deficit with India."
and India, which enjoy a blow hot blow cold relationship,
have a trade and transit treaty, an extradition treaty, a
peace and friendship treaty and several water resources sharing
most of Nepal's major political parties have been expressing
dissatisfaction with the pacts, calling them unequal and asking
for their review if not outright abrogation.
his India visit, Prachanda said he raised the subject and
opened negotiations on reviews, especially regarding the controversial
1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty, which had become outdated.
new economic agreement comes at a time when Nepal's first
Maoist government has pledged an economic revolution with
the generation of 10,000 MW of power in the next decade and
to take the average income to double digits.
Prachanda government is also seeking greater Indian investment
in Nepal, especially in priority areas like hydropower, infrastructure
a bid to boost trade between the two countries, Ramesh said
New Delhi has allocated Rs.3.4 billion to upgrading infrastructure
at four major Indo-Nepal border points at Birgunj-Raxaul,
Biratnagar-Jogbani, Bhairahawa-Sunauli and Nepalgunj-Rupaidiha.
work would upgrade roads, quick immigration facilities, customs
clearance, banking, communications and testing facilities.
Birgunj-Raxaul check point alone saw an import-export volume
worth Rs.30 billion in 2007-8.
barriers remain the greatest obstacle in the Indo-Nepal trade,"
the minister said. "Nepal has said the major hurdle is
getting tests conducted on food and agriculture products."
a goodwill gesture, Ramesh would be asking the Nepali minister
to identify testing facilities in Nepal. India would then
upgrade them at its own cost so that the testing and quality
certification can be done in Nepal, saving traders time, money
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