Monday, December 26, 2005

More homework needed for SAFTA : Experts

Kathmandu, Dec 25 - Participants of a program have said that the implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement will help Nepal to boost its trade with South Asian countries. They also strongly urged the government for serious homework as the implementation of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) nears. It will be implemented from January 1, 2006.

Speaking at an interaction in the capital on Sunday, they said Nepal has to identify the goods of comparative advantage to penetrate the regional market.

Rajesh Kaji Shrestha, assistant minister for industry, commerce and supplies speaking at a programme on ‘SAFTA implementation: How beneficial for Nepal’, organised by the Management Association of Nepal (MAN)-MDC and Media for Economic and Social Awareness (MESA) expressed his commitment to carry out extensive exercise in coordination with the concerned stakeholders to exploit tremendous trade potentials from the regional markets.“If we could increase economic opportunities across the country, it may help restore peace as more people will be engaged in income generating activities,” he hoped. Shrestha also said that the government would take initiatives to bring a guide-book that will help in understanding the nitty-gritty of SAFTA. “Cashing in on emerging market opportunities is the need of the hour,” he added.

In his presentation, Prachanda Man Shrestha, joint-secretary at the ministry of industry, commerce and supply (MOICS), said that finalization of the SAFTA accord has given a message that economic agendas are also getting priority in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

He informed that as per the SAFTA agreement, developing countries will bring down their customs tariff to 20 percent while Least Developed Countries (LDCs) countries will bring it down to 30 percent during the first phase between 2006-2008. Non-LDC nations will bring down tariff level to between 0 and 5 percent by 2009 while LDC nations will do so by 2016.
He informed that all seven member countries have their own lists of sensitive goods and which will be reviewed every four years to help create confidence among the trading partners and boost intra regional trade.

Commenting on the presentation, Prof Bishwambher Pyakuryal, president of the Nepal Economic Association (NEA), suggested the government to work out on ‘revenue compensation mechanisms’ to prepare Nepal to be economically competitive. He stressed on creating sub-regional grouping between Least Develeoped Countries (LDCs) to benefit from the regional free trade regime.

“Meanwhile, there is a need for private sector and the government to work jointly and effectively,” he said suggesting that the complimentary products within the countries should be identified to benefit from SAFTA.

Chairman of Management Association of Nepal-Management Development Centre, Dr Bimal Koirala, said that all should concentrate to develop competitive strengths of our products to maximise advantages from the regional trading agreement

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