US less enthusiastic for TIFA negotiations

Republica 2010-02-17

US less enthusiastic for TIFA negotiations

BIJAYA GHIMIRE

WASHINGTON, Feb 17: At a time when Nepali delegation is making last-hour preparations for the negotiations with US government for proposed Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), it has been learnt that Washington is not enthusiastic in initiating the negotiations.

Officials say that the US government is not yet ready to grant a preferential entry facility for Nepali readymade garments, despite the fact that Nepal has been pushing hard for it since long.

Washington was planning to send a trade delegation for trade dialogue about two months back. However, the planned visit was canceled after Ministry of Commerce expressed its willingness to travel to US rather then welcoming the US delegation to Nepal.

Officials of Washington-based US Trade Representative office had informed Nepali Embassy that the proposed trade negotiation is not in their priority because of fluid political situation in Nepal. As a result, embassy officials are finding it difficult to set meetings with concerned officials.

Concerned US officials have also pointed out inadequate homework from Nepali side for the proposed negotiations and also dropped the hints that the Nepali side should focus more on preparations to make negotiations success. Nepal is seeking zero-tariff facility for key exports and support for infrastructure development among others.

Despite being the world´s largest market for consumable products, Nepali exports to US has been constantly dwindling. Readymade garments used to be the largest exports to US. However, the export started to decline after the scrapping of Multi Fabric Agreement in 2004 and squeezed to almost zero last year.

Nepal has been long demanding to provide concessional entry of garment products into the US market. However, US officials have been arguing that it is difficult for them to adopt a separate and country-specific trade policy for Nepal.

Though Nepal has good export prospects on woolen carpets, US importers have been complaining that Nepal manufactures are poor in making timely delivery of ordered products. According to US importers, due to frequent disturbances and labor problems, Nepali exporters often missed the delivery deadline.

Experts comment that the chances of Nepal getting benefits from the proposed agreement with the US is very slim due to the fact that Nepal hardly has exportable products that are competitive in the US market.

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source: República