India and Nepal on Sunday agreed to address each other’s concerns on commerce and transit, including reduction of tariff barriers and checking illegal trade along the porous border between the two countries.
The decisions were made during the two-day Inter-Governmental Committee meeting that concluded here. The respective delegations were led by the Commerce Secretaries.
The two sides agreed to step up efforts to check unauthorised trade and control trade in fake Indian currency, according to officials.
The Indian side agreed to provide 10,000 cows in response to a demand from Nepal to meet the country’s increasing demand for milk and dairy products.
The two sides had “fruitful discussions” and “developed a common understanding in areas related to trade and transit and controlling unauthorised trade on the border,” Nepal’s Commerce Secretary Madhav Prasad Regmi said. “We have also been able to sort out many important bilateral issues which had remained in limbo for a long time.” The deliberations helped “clarify many issues of common interest relating to trade and transit,” he added.
Mr. Regmi said he agreed with his Indian counterpart S.R. Rao’s views that “Nepal has to do much more to reduce its trade deficit and India could help Nepal in this regard.”
Mr. Rao said: “From the Indian side, we recognise the necessity of balancing trade to make it far more sustainable for both countries. It is our policy that sooner or later, we wish to see a more balanced trade between the two countries.”
Though both sides have been looking primarily at trade in goods, they need to increase trade in services and investments for balancing trade, Mr. Rao said.
The two sides agreed on a 14-point agenda to enhance trade, promote cooperation and address concerns of the private sector of both sides, according to an official statement.
Nepal agreed to adjust the 5 per cent agriculture reforms charge it has been charging on Indian exports. India agreed to resolve difficulties related to export of Nepali books and newspapers.
The two sides agreed to make institutional arrangements to facilitate third country import and export to build infrastructure in newly identified customs points.
Both sides agreed to expedite implementation of past agreements and understandings, the statement said.
Mr. Rao said India would like to provide technical assistance that can enhance the competitiveness of Nepalese exports. “We would like to provide support in capacity building in areas required by the government of Nepal.”
Nepal’s abundant natural resources, like its hydropower potential, can be tapped for the prosperity of the country and surplus power exported to India and other countries, Mr. Rao said. “The government of India has unilaterally made this possible by moving power trading or power export-import into India from a restricted category to the open general category.” This would permit power generated in Nepal to be supplied to the entire subcontinent.