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Commerce Minister to lobby US senate for duty-free status
Aug '09
Commerce Minister Mr. Rajendra Mahato is planning to travel to US, to lobby the US Senate to pass a bill at an appropriate time, which could grant a duty-free status to textile and apparel exports from Nepal along with 14 other countries.

The Foreign Minister Ms. Sujata Koirala will also push the US Senate for passage of the bill during her proposed visit to the US to attend the UN General Assembly.

Nepali garment entrepreneurs are continuously asking the government for being pro-active regarding this, after the bill was tabled by two Senators in the US Senate. But even after two months, little progress has been made in this respect.

Experts said that efforts of some US Senators alone cannot offer success to the passage of the bill as past experience reveals that bill passage needs strong lobbying.

GAN had urged the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to raise the issue as a national agenda with Mr. Robert Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, during his Nepal visit in June. It had also requested the US embassy to arrange a meeting for GAN members with Mr. Black.

14 LDCs that would benefit from the bill will meet in the last week of September in a meeting, which will be organized by Bangladesh. Representatives of the private sector of these 14 LDCs will take part in the meeting with the concerned US officials, informed Mr. Pokhrel.

In the year 2005, three countries; Nepal, Bangladesh and Cambodia had hired a lobbyist in the US, but this association had split down when US Senators did not provide duty-free access to Bangladesh and Cambodia.

The bill is lying with the finance committee of the US Senate at this stage and is the third time when such a bill has been tabled in the Senate. Little progress was made in the previous two occasions in 2003 and 2007.

Nepali entrepreneurs are expecting that this time the bill would be passed in the seventh WTO ministerial meet scheduled in December. Mr. Pokhrel said that if the WTO's Doha round concludes in Geneva, the US will have to provide duty-free access to the LDCs.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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