Nepal begins second Trade Policy ReviewThe government has started work on the Trade Policy Review (TPR), a mandatory component for members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which it has to submit to the secretariat of the multilateral organisation by the end of 2018.
The government has started work on the Trade Policy Review (TPR), a mandatory component for members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which it has to submit to the secretariat of the multilateral organisation by the end of 2018.
This is the second time that Nepal is reviewing its trade policy after becoming the 147th member of the WTO in April 2004. Nepal conducted its first TPR in 2012.
The WTO protocol states that each member nation needs to revisit its trade policy at specific intervals. As per the protocol, the least developed countries are required to review their trade policy every six years. The developed and developing countries have to do so every two and four years respectively. According to Ministry of Commerce, it has formed a steering committee led by Secretary Chandra Kumar Ghimire and a technical committee led by the joint secretary at the planning division of the ministry.
“These committees will be preparing a draft on a major review in the policies that directly affected the country’s foreign trade in the years following 2012,” ministry spokesperson Rabi Shankar Sainju said. “In addition, we have to report to the WTO about the progress the country has achieved over the years in macroeconomic areas.”
Sainju said a team from the WTO, Geneva would be visiting Nepal by the end of this week. “The reports drafted by the government and the WTO mission will be presented to the secretariat of the WTO.”
During the period following the first TPR in 2012, Nepal has endorsed the Nepal Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, Power Purchase Guideline, Guidelines for Development of Grid Connected Alternative Energy, Trade Policy 2015, Industrial Enterprises Act 2016, Companies Act 2017, Foreign Investment and One-Window Policy 2015 and National Tourism Strategy 2016-25, among others.
Nepal started to liberalize its trade and investment regime in 1992 and became the first least developed country to join the WTO. Over the period, the country’s economic performance has fallen short of the goals. The key factors impeding higher rates of GDP growth include political instability and supply-side constraints mainly resulting from notably energy shortages, poor infrastructure and labour problems.
Due to these obstacles, Nepal has not been able to achieve diversification in exportable goods and trading partner countries. In addition, Nepal has not been able to overcome non-tariff measures in a number of trading partner countries which have still been providing preferential market access. Although energy shortages and labour related issues have eased to some extent, Nepal is still struggling to check the widening trade deficit caused by slow progress in exports coinciding with a jump in imports.
In 2016-17, Nepal witnessed a negative trade balance of Rs917 billion, up 30 percent compared to the previous year. In the first six months of the current fiscal year too, the country’s trade deficit has surged to Rs493 billion from Rs428.33 billion.