Pakistan, Nepal must collaborate to boost trade ties: envoy

Our Correspondent
Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

KARACHI: Nepalese ambassador Tapas Adhikari stressed on boosting bilateral ties between Pakistan and Nepal, saying the two countries could strengthen economic relations with exchange of tradeable resources of each.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the envoy said Pakistan and Nepal were developing countries that should mobilise their resources and products by directly exchanging them.

“Nepal and Pakistan have competitive advantage in various agricultural products whose trade needs to be promoted. The business community of Pakistan must look into the possibility of importing Nepalese tea, cardamom, ginger and different other products, which are being exported to Europe, USA, and India etc.”, he said.

Pakistan imports around 800 million kilograms of tea every year mostly from east African countries, of which some portion can also be imported from Nepal which produces good quality tea, according to the Nepalese ambassador.

“Although we are not in a position to completely cater to Pakistan’s massive demand for tea as Nepal produces around 40 million kilograms of tea per annum but we can certainly contribute to some extent.”

He was of the view that the good relations in political terms and also the goodwill between the people of Nepal and Pakistan had not been translated in the field of economy mainly due to less interaction between the business communities of the two countries. “The existing meager trade volume needs to be doubled through collective efforts. The prime objective should be to start off more interaction between the private sectors of the two countries, which would certainly help in expanding the scope of businesses,” Adhikari said.

The envoy also invited the business community of Karachi chamber to pay a visit Nepal to explore trade, investment and tourism opportunities. “Any Pakistani businessman looking forward to invest in Nepal will also be fully supported,” he said.

He informed that before Covid-19 pandemic over 2 million foreign tourists had visited Nepal, of which less than 5,000 tourists were received from Pakistan, which “needs to be enhanced by at least 10 times”.

Earlier, KCCI president Mohammed Tariq Yousuf pointed out that there were some hurdles between Pakistan-Nepal bilateral trade, which include geographical limitations due to transit routes refusal from India, lack of infrastructure linkages, and a quantum of informal trade between India and Nepal. “Due to Nepal’s reliance on India, the textile products and other commodities influx from the informal channel affects Nepal in terms of revenue loss and makes it less competitive internationally, besides damaging Pakistan-Nepal bilateral trade,” he said.

The KCCI chief further shared that Pakistan’s exports to Nepal had stood at a meagre of $5.77 million in FY22, while the imports from Nepal stood at $1.54 million in FY22, indicating trade in favor of Pakistan.

To improve the existing trade volume, KCCI chief suggested establishing joint information centres at the Commerce ministriens so that the importers and exporters of both countries could be facilitated to boost trade whereas seminars, workshops, and exhibitions must also be taking place regularly to improve the communication gap.

He further invited the Nepalese business community to participate in KCCI’s forthcoming ‘My Karachi Exhibition’ at Karachi Expo Center next month, which would provide a platform to explore business and investment opportunities. “The private sector should be encouraged to open educational institutions in Nepal while the Nepalese government should provide necessary facilities for this growing industry.”

Yousuf opined that the government should readjust customs and tariffs to promote trade between Nepal and Pakistan.

It would help cement the existing ties and enable the two countries to promote regional connectivity and achieve economic growth and development, he added.

“Pakistan is rich in its tourist destinations offering choices to all types of tourists and so was Nepal, hence, both countries should work together to develop a public-private partnership for promoting intra-country tourism,” KCCI chief said.