Government bans import of Red Bull and flavoured synthetic drinksGovernment claims such drinks pose a health risk
Indian traders expressed their concern over Nepal imposing a ban on the import of energy drinks and flavoured synthetic drinks.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies published the order to ban the import of energy drinks and flavoured synthetic drinks in the Nepal Gazette on June 17. The ministry has come up with the step as a measure to check the widening trade deficit. In the new law, Nepal has completely barred import of caffeine mixed energy drinks. With the Cabinet providing green signal to the national working guideline 2019, related to minimising the trade deficit, the ministry has issued the order.
The move is likely to affect sales of Red Bull, one of the most popular energy drinks in Nepal. On Sunday, the Indian agent of Red Bull wrote a letter to the Nepalese Embassy in India to clarify the government’s move to restrict the import of the energy drink.
Deepak Mishra, advisor of Indian company of Red Bull energy drinks, said the restriction was against the norm of international trade. “Unless and until the product is proven to harm human health and the environment, such restriction measure is unlawful,” said Mishra.
Dinesh Bhattarai, spokesperson of the ministry, said the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest has been working on the technicalities over the restriction of specified energy drinks.
A senior official of the ministry however said that the ministry’s new move was only the revised provision of the order issued on November 2, 2009. As per the source, the order has been issued after taking into consideration both international practices and domestic laws. “The government can impose such restriction on any product if it is found to pose a health risk to the public.”
Despite the government’s claim, analysts said such move could paint a negative picture about Nepal in the international market. Trade analyst Poshan Pandey said the government could have adopted alternative measures to reduce the volume of import rather than imposing a direct restriction.
Pandey urged the government to clarify the rational base while implementing such measures. “This type of move could unveil the ad hoc decision measures of the government that could even breach the compliances of international norms.”
Mishra warned that they could seek legal recourse if the government moves forward with the import ban.
“We will consult with the head office in Austria to move forward,” he said. Red Bull sells their products in 160 countries. Nepal imports the drink from India and Thailand.