October 23: The Nepali delegation in a meeting with Bangladesh on the topic of trade discussed the issue of reducing trade deficit with Bangladesh on Tuesday. The two countries also discussed about addressing the problems at the customs points and to facilitate trade between Nepal and Bangladesh. The possibility of trade though waterways was also discussed during the first day of the secretary-level meeting.
The Nepali delegation led by Joint-Secretary Nabaraj Dhakal of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, said that Bangladesh has shown interest to invest on hydropower sector of Nepal.
“Bangladesh has shown interest to invest in 20 hydropower projects in Nepal,” said Dhakal.
Joint Secretary Dhakal confirmed that discussions were held on connectivity, shipment of goods, export and import of food products and energy sector.
During the meeting, the Nepali side laid emphasis on export of yarn and electricity as well as facilitation of visa process for students pursuing courses in Bangladesh.
Joint Secretary Dhakal said that discussions are being held in line with the agenda set by the council of ministers.
Although Bangladesh had eased the import of yarn since last year, Nepal has not been able to export the product in large quantity. Nepal exported yarn worth Rs 600 million in a period of one year.
Bangladesh has allowed Nepal to export only acrylic yarn, which is not much used in Bangladesh, according to Nepali exporters. Currently, there is high demand for viscous yarn, polyster yarn, and dyed yarn.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has raised the issue of the ban imposed by Nepal on Bangladeshi soft drinks, especially fruit juice. Last year, Nepal had imposed a ban of importing juice from overseas in order to protect its own industries. This has badly affected the trade of Bangladesh.
The ban was imposed in accordance to the National Trade Deficit Work Plan introduced by the government to reduce trade deficit. Nepal used to be a major market for Bangladeshi company Pran until the ban was enforced. Juice and soft drinks comprised of 39 percent of the total trade with Bangladesh last year. Nepal had imported litchi juice worth Rs 1.68 billion of Pran brand in fiscal year 2017/18.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the two countries also discussed about signing a MoU on ensuring food security. Discussions were also held on recognizing each others’ labs and on plant quarantine as well.
Nepal has been facing trade deficit with Bangladesh since the last four years. Although the list of items imported from Bangladesh is long, Nepal only exports 10 products to Bangladesh. Nepal’s chief export to Bangladesh includes lentil, Dabur Nepal’s products, medicinal herbs, cake made from mustard oil, transformers among others. Meanwhile, Nepal imports juice and other drinks, raw jute, milk powder, sugar to name a few products.