Governmental agencies and business associations successfully participated in the first virtual training on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and its benefits for Nepal
Kathmandu, 27 August 2020 – Participants representing the government, business associations, as well as development partners gathered for the first virtual training on the “WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA): principles, requirement and benefits”, organized under the framework of the EU-Nepal Trade and Investment Programme (TIP), funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
Mr. Durga Prasad Bhusal, Focal Point of the EU-Nepal TIP and Under Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS), described this EU project as an effort in the right direction and coming at an appropriate time, especially since the trade facilitation has been a priority area of Government of Nepal following ratification of the TFA on January 24 2017. He remarked that Nepal has finalized the notification of TFA commitments under Category A, B and C to the WTO on 15th February 2018. As per official notification, Nepal has notified 2.1% of its TFA commitments under Category A, having technical capacity to implement such measures within one year upon entry into force of the Agreement, which took place on 21 February 2017. For the remaining measures, Nepal notified 12.2 % and 85.7% implementation commitments under Category B and C respectively, committing to implement measures under Category B by December 2025, - as reflected in the official communication shared with the WTO on 20 February 2020 - while Category C upon receipt of technical assistance and capacity building support. Mr. Bhusal informed that the EU-Nepal TIP will be supporting the Government of Nepal to prepare the action plan for the implementation of Category C measures, and will provide institutional strengthening support to the Nepal National Facilitation Committee (NTFC), among others, in the coming months and years.
Ms. Eleonora Salluzzi, Associate Programme Officer in ITC and co-lead resource person of the virtual training on the TFA, shed light on the legal requirements enshrined in the Articles of the WTO TFA, and highlighted how trade facilitation reforms are of utmost importance for businesses, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in least-developed countries (LDCs). She added that operationalizing the TFA is a path to greater internationalization, which will allow them to access international value chains at lower costs and at greater speed. She concluded that governmental agencies and businesses can equally benefit from the Agreement by having a sound understanding of how the new procedures and requirements will complement their public policy and business priorities.
Mr. Qasim Chaudry, TFA expert of ITC and co-lead resource person of the training, also explained the legal provisions of the TFA, highlighting how costs arising from cross-border inefficiencies are detrimental to the competitiveness of SMEs in international markets, and how specific measures in the TFA can foster efficiency in the business environment for the benefit of government, businesses and other trade stakeholders alike. He also stated that trade facilitation is crucial to curb the time and cost of international trade procedures in Nepal, and added that the TFA provides a sound technical and institutional framework to implement trade facilitation measures that will greatly benefit a landlocked country such as Nepal.
The training workshop, attended by 25 participants from governmental agencies and business associations, of which 24% were female, was conducted in participatory approach, and the participants stated that the training content was highly informative, relevant and useful for them. They further remarked that more trainings are needed in the future on the TFA issues, and how Nepal can better prepare to benefit from the TFA.
About EU-Nepal Trade and Investment Programme (TIP)
The EU-Nepal Trade and Investment Programme (TIP) is a four-year programme funded by the European Union (EU), to assist the Government of Nepal to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction by increasing trade and participation in regional and global value chains. ITC is implementing Objective 1 of the EU-Nepal TIP, namely the “EU-Nepal Trade-Related Assistance: Facilitating Increased Trade and Participation in Coffee and Pashmina Value Chains” project, which aims to strengthen the economy of Nepal, promote shared inclusive growth and contribute also to the solving of cross-border trade barriers. Trade facilitation under Output 2, in particular, is one of the substantive areas of ITC’s technical assistance in Nepal under the framework of the EU-Nepal TIP.