Public-Private Dialogue on Nepal’s Tea and Lentil Exports
SAWTEE, in association with Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), Government of Nepal, and Nepal Economy, Agriculture and Trade (NEAT) Activity/USAID, organized a half-day Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) on 17 April 2011 in Kathmandu. The objective of the event was to disseminate the findings of the report titled “Export of Tea and Lentils from Nepal” that was prepared by a team of trainees who had participated in the training “International Trading System” organized by SAWTEE in cooperation with MoCS as part of NEAT Activity from 7-9 February 2012 at Godavari, Lalitpur.
Speaking at the programme, Mr Toya Narayan Gyawali, Joint Secretary, MoCS, appreciated the selection of tea and lentils for research. He said that since these products have also been identified in Trade Policy 2009 and Nepal Trade Integration Strategy 2010 as export potential products of the country, the research findings would help the ministry in devising programmes and strategies for export promotion and preparing the agenda for bilateral and multilateral negotiations. He argued that Nepal would not be able to benefit from preferential market access unless it increased competitiveness in products with export potential.
Welcoming the participants, Dr Ratnakar Adhikari, Chief Executive Director, SAWTEE, highlighted that supply-side constraints are the major problem in the case of Nepal’s export. Pointing out the country’s poor business environment, he emphasized the need to overcome domestic supply-side constraints. Dr Adhikari also highlighted para-tariff and non-tariff barriers faced by Nepali products in markets such as India and Bangladesh.
Making a presentation on the topic, Dr Pradyumna Raj Pandey, Under Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC), revealed that Nepal’s tea and lentils are getting duty-free access in the most of top importing countries of the respective products, but Nepal is unable to tap the opportunity mainly due to domestic constraints. Elaborating on the domestic constraints, Dr Pandey explained that politicized trade unionism, long power cuts, and shortage of workers and chemical fertilizers are the major hurdles faced by Nepal’s tea industry. He also said that the benefits from the export of lentils have not percolated down to the farmers because of which only a limited section of the business community is benefiting.
Commenting on the presentation, Ms Yamuna Ghale, Member, PM Economic Advisory Council, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, appreciated the report. While appreciating the selection of agriculture products for the study, she suggested investigating how much developmental needs—such as creation of employment and equitable sharing of the benefits of export value—have been met by the export of tea and lentils. Mr Pradip Maharjan, Chief Executive Officer, Agro Enterprises Centre, said that Nepal has formulated proper trade and industrial policies, but their impacts seem minimal due to poor implementation capacity. Dr Pallavi Singh, Technical Officer, National Tea and Coffee Development Board, suggested exploring sustainable options instead of seeking access to the Indian tea auction market. Altogether 71 participants representing a cross-section of stakeholders—including academia, government officials, the private sector, civil society and the media—attended the programme.