The Himalayan Times | 19 December 2020
Fifth TIFA council meeting held
The United States-Nepal Council on Trade and Investment, under the United States-Nepal Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), held its fifth meeting virtually recently to promote expanded bilateral trade and investment in both goods and services.
The meeting was co-chaired by Christopher Wilson, assistant United States trade representative for South and Central Asia, and Baikuntha Aryal, secretary of commerce and supplies at Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, Nepal government. Both delegations included officials from trade, finance, labour, and other regulatory agencies.
During the meeting, representatives discussed a range of bilateral trade and investment-related issues covered under the TIFA, including, among others, customs and trade facilitation, intellectual property, digital trade and e-commerce, labour, financial services, investment promotion, trade in agriculture products, and utilisation of the Nepal Trade Preference Programme, as per a media release.
The United States affirmed its engagement with Nepal on its efforts to foster innovation and investment through improvements in intellectual property protection and enforcement.
Nepal provided an update on its initiatives to increase intellectual property protection through legislative changes.
Recognising the important role of digital trade in fostering economic growth, Nepal and the US agreed to explore ways to deepen engagement on policy developments affecting the digital economy. The United States welcomed Nepal’s efforts to promote internationally recognised worker rights and the implementation of Nepal’s labour laws. Nepal affirmed the importance it attaches to worker rights and both countries agreed to engage in constructive discussions on these issues.
The United States also welcomed confirmation that there is no restriction on the import of US pork and poultry in Nepali market, and Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control recognises the food certificates of the National Competent Authority of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Both countries agreed to remain engaged on market access issues of mutual interest, the release adds.
Nepal and the US discussed the importance of fully utilising US preferential trade benefits for select products from Nepal, available through December 31, 2025 as a result of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. Taking note of Nepal’s interest in expanding utilisation of the trade preference programme and reviewing Nepal’s concept note, the United States expressed willingness to provide further technical assistance to Nepal to increase trade and investment.
Nepal provided an update on recent investment policy reform initiatives taken to improve its investment climate, and emphasised its interest in attracting additional foreign investment from the US. The US took note of this interest and suggested ways in which Nepal could further enhance business climate to attract investment.
Both governments pledged their commitment to deepen their engagement in these issue areas over the coming months in inter-sessional meetings and to hold the Sixth TIFA Council Meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal as soon as travel conditions permit.