KATHMANDU, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Nepal has not held any bilateral talks with its top three export destinations for almost two years, thus hampering chances of boosting up international trade, said experts on Monday.
"Lack of internal preparation, priority to political agenda than to economic agenda and unstable government are the major factors behind Nepal not engaging in bilateral talks with its trading partners," Purushottam Ojha, a former secretary of commerce, told Xinhua.
The meeting of Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) between Nepal and India was held in December 2011. Since then, no meeting has taken place.
Nepal last met with the U.S. officials in April 2011, while signing the Trade and Investments Framework, better known as the TIFA agreement. Likewise, Nepal and Bangladesh held the last bilateral talks at secretary level in July 2012.
India is Nepal's largest export destination (500 million U.S. dollars) followed by the USA (50 million U.S. dollars) and Bangladesh (25 million U.S. dollars).
"It is Nepal, which will benefit by increasing volume of export with these countries. But, not even engaging in frequent bilateral talks with them will only cast negative impact on Nepal," Ojha added.
The government authorities, however, stressed that they are in a bid to engage in regular trade talks with the key export partners.
"We are undergoing internal preparation to hold IGC meeting with India soon," said Jibraj Koirala, a spokesperson at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, adding that similar meeting will be held with the United States and Bangladesh, too.
The situation of no talks with India has stalled the process of amending a railway agreement with India, under which both the countries were expected to be connected by railway services. It has also halted the process of Nepal using the sea ports of India.
The TIFA agreement with the United States was supposed to provide priority to Nepali goods entering the market. But, this is not happening any time soon in absence of the regular bilateral meetings.
As for Bangladesh, the government of Nepal has already decided to grant zero tariff duty to 62 Bangladesh products entering Nepal. But this has not been executed due to the lack of bilateral meeting.