Connectivity a must to expand intra-regional trade, investment in BIMSTEC: Dhakal

KATHMANDU: President of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) Chandra Prasad Dhakal said that there was a need of effective and efficient infrastructure to foster intra-regional trade and investment in Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

Speaking at Special Plenary Session of International Trade Forum during BIMSTEC Business Conclave in Calcutta, India, President Dhakal said, “To foster regional trade and investment, there is a need for an efficient and effective infrastructure such as land, waterway, rail, air and digital connectivity. We need to jointly invest to improve the existing connectivity infrastructure and also build new ones for better connectivity.”

Similarly, enhancing physical infrastructure, such as roads, ports, and logistics facilities was essential for efficient movement of goods within the region, he said adding, joint efforts could be made to develop and upgrade infrastructure to support the development of regional value chains.

“Promoting cross-border energy cooperation, including development of energy infrastructure and efficient energy trade can support the growth of energy-intensive industries within regional value chains.

For example, Nepal- Bangladesh and India have been working on the hydropower transmission lines, to export electricity produced in Nepal, to Bangladesh, via India. The success of such project can be expanded to other BIMSTEC nations and beyond also,” Dhakal said.

In addition to connectivity infrastructure, BIMSTEC countries need to remove and reduce the various non-tariff barriers to trade for making regional trade and investment smooth.

BIMSTEC nations can work towards aligning their trade and investment policies to create a conducive environment for regional value chains. This can involve streamlining customs procedures, simplifying regulations and promoting investment facilitation measures.

“The free trading arrangement in the region can facilitate increased bilateral and multilateral trade among member countries. Nepal can benefit from the removal or reduction of tariffs on its exports, leading to a boost in trade volumes and diversification of its export base,” he said.

He said that the regional connectivity and free trade agreement would also help attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

“Smooth and strong regional connectivity and free trade arrangement will help attract FDI. Improved market access and reduced trade barriers will encourage foreign companies to invest in various sectors of economy, leading to economic growth and job creation in the BIMSTEC countries,” he said.

FNCCI President Dhakal also floated the idea for the formation of BIMSTEC Business Forum so as to foster intra-regional trade and investment in BIMSTEC.

Fiscal Nepal |
Tuesday June 13, 2023, 06:04:10 PM |

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