Nepal-US Tifa Council meet slated for June 9-10The second joint council meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) between Nepal and the US is scheduled to be held on June 9-10 in the US. The bilateral meeting has been pending since 2012.
The second joint council meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) between Nepal and the US is scheduled to be held on June 9-10 in the US. The bilateral meeting has been pending since 2012.
According to Commerce Ministry officials, a nine-member team headed by Commerce Minister Jayanta Chand will be leaving on Tuesday to take part in the conference. The other members of the delegation are secretaries of the Commerce, Industry and Agricultural Development ministries and two representatives from the private sector.
Commerce Minister Chand said the talks would focus on implementing a full-fledged generalised system of preferences (GSP) and promoting US investments in Nepal.
Tifa is a bilateral pact aimed at promoting trade and investment between the two countries. The first conference of the Tifa Council was held in April 2011 in Washington, DC, two days after Nepal and the US signed the agreement.
Nepal will also be asking the US to allow duty-free access to all types of garment products at the meeting. The US has provided duty-free access to 66 Nepali items for the next 10 years by endorsing the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act.
Under the facility, the US grants preferential treatment to a limited number of Nepali products like pashmina, headgear, shawls, leather products, scarves, carpets and travel goods, among others.
As per the Commerce Ministry, there are seven items on the agenda for the meeting. Enforcing intellectual property rights, investment, infrastructure development, capacity development, increasing market access, minimizing technical barriers to trade and trade facilitation are the main issues that will be discussed.
According to ministry officials, Nepal will be asking the US for help to implement the trade facilitation measures that fall under the C category. Enforcing an electronic payment system, risk management, post-clearance audit, international standards and easing test procedures, expediting shipments, border agency cooperation, enquiry points and information available through the internet are the main issues in this category.
“Nepal can implement the measures that fall under the A and B categories like the use of customs brokers, pre-shipment inspection, consultation, detention, penalty disciplines and perishable goods on its own,” said the official.
Apart from promoting trade, Tifa is also expected to open up avenues for promoting US investments in Nepal. “Besides asking the US for free market access, increasing American investments in Nepal will be the main topic for discussion,” said an official.
In July 2014, a preparatory meeting for the Tifa Council meeting was held here. But the Tifa meet had to be put off due to the preparations for the Saarc Summit, earthquakes in April and May, Tarai unrest and trade embargo imposed by India, according to the ministry source.
In recent years, earnings from exports to the US have been on a rising trend. Nepal shipped goods worth Rs4.39 billion to the US in 2010-11. Exports grew to Rs5.55 billion in 2011-12 after Tifa was enforced.
In the first nine months of the current fiscal year, Nepal exported goods worth Rs6.67 billion to the US, enjoying a trade surplus of Rs600 million. Handicraft products, herbs, pashmina products and woollen carpets are Nepal’s major exports to the US.