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Nepal to reduce sensitive list under SAFTA

Republica, Nepal

Nepal to reduce sensitive list under SAFTA

15 March 2011

KATHMANDU, March 15: Nepal is proposing removal of about 260 items from existing sensitive list of goods for imports at the upcoming meeting of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) scheduled to be held in the last week of March in Kathmandu.

Toya Narayan Gyawali, joint secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), said the ministry is finalizing the list of goods to be removed from the list, keeping in view the significance of those goods in Nepal´s economy.

“We´ve identified at least 260 goods that can be removed from the list, considering the impact that their imports can have in our market,” said Gyawali, who is leading the Nepali team in the Second Meeting of Working Group on Reduction in Sensitive Goods under SAFTA to be held from March 28-31.

Under the sensitive list, Nepal has put 1,257 goods for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 1,295 goods for Non-LDCs — the biggest list among SAARC countries. Bhutan has the shortest list among SAARC member countries with 150 items under the sensitive list. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the eight-nation bloc are non-LDCs.

The MoCS on Sunday held an interaction with officials of the Ministry of Finance and representatives from Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and Nepal Chamber of Commerce to discuss on the removal of listed goods from the sensitive list.

During the last two days of the four-day meeting, member countries will make special commitment on opening service sector for imports.

The 16th SAARC summit held in Bhutan last year had agreed to incorporate service sector under SAFTA commitment.

The SAFTA was formulated at the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in 2004 with the target of bringing down customs duty among member countries to zero by 2016.