Stakeholders’ dialogue on Nepal’s Participation at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference
On 28th November 2013, SAWTEE, Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) and Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) jointly organized a stakeholders’ dialogue in Kathmandu in order to identify Nepal’s negotiating positions for the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) scheduled for 3-6 December in Bali. Honourable Shankar Prasad Koirala, Minister of Commerce and Supplies, who is leading the Nepalese delegation to the Ministerial Conference was the Chief Guest of the programme.
About 55 participants, including trade policy experts, policymakers, and private sector representatives participated in the dialogue.
The major focus of discussion at the dialogue was the three pillars that are being taken to Bali: agriculture, trade facilitation and development dimension, that includes least-developed country (LDC) issues. Speakers at the dialogue stressed that Nepal’s major concern at Bali is the issue of development dimension as it relates to trade and development aspects of LDCs. Given the current trade off between trade facilitation and agriculture between developed country members and developing countries, mainly India, there are concerns that Bali might not be able to deliver results. Nevertheless, Nepal, who is also the coordinator of the LDC Group, should demand that there be a deal at least on the LDC package, which would consist of 100 percent duty free and quota free market access, preferential rules of origin, operationalization of services waiver and special and differential treatment.
On the trade facilitation agreement, there was a broad consensus that the agreement should have provisions on binding commitments from developed country members to provide dedicated financial and technical resources to LDCs to implement the provisions of the agreement. Similarly, on agriculture, although the issues at stake currently are not very important for Nepal, from a long term perspective, Nepal’s position should be in line with the G33 proposal on food security.
Dr Shankar D Bairagi, Nepal’s Ambassador to the WTO, provided an overview of the state of negotiations in Geneva and the package that LDC members have worked out and provided to the WTO. He also pointed to the difficulty that Nepal, as the Chair of the LDC Group, has had to face in reconciling all LDC members’ differing interests and concerns.
Participants provided important inputs to the delegation that is leaving for Bali on 30 November. Honourable Minister and Head of the delegation assured the participants that he and his team would put in all possible efforts at Bali and try to ensure that the outcomes are in favour of LDCs like Nepal.
Mr Toya Narayan Gyawali, Joint Secretary, MoCS and Mr Puspa Sharma, Research Director, SAWTEE, made two presentations to initiate the discussions at the dialogue.
Mr Shanker Prasad Pandeya, Chair, Trade Committee, FNCCI; Dr Shanker D Bairagi, H E Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva; Prof Bishwambher Pyakuryal, Tribhuwan University and Mr Surya Prasad Silwal, Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, Government of Nepal commented on the presentation.
The programme was chaired by Mr Pashupati Murarka, Vice President, FNCCI.