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Officials to discuss zero-duty access with US
Feb '10
Shortly, a government deputation headed by Commerce Minister Rajendra Mahato is to visit United States to press for exclusive bilateral trade agreement, in the quest of zero-tariff facility for leading exporters of Nepal and backing for infrastructure development.

The main focus of the team will be to carry out discussions regarding the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) – an accord prescribed for Nepal by the US Trade Representative (USTR) Office to gain special entry in the US markets.

The deputation by acquainting the US investors and officials regarding the prospects and opportunities in Nepal is to press for zero-duty for Nepal's readymade garment industry, and thereby demand support for trade related infrastructure development. For this, the team will be carrying out discussions with senior officials of Department of Commerce, US Trade Representative, senators and congressmen.

In the midst of political mayhem and volatility, Nepal's trade and financial relations with the world's biggest economy fizzled out during past few years as virtually no investment flowed from US and also its key exports like readymade garments too plunged.

Resultantly, the bilateral trade between Nepal and US lingered nominally, with Nepal having the benefit of trade surplus worth just Rs. 180 million. In these circumstances, the officials are of the view that gaining special preferences by signing TIFA, would once again spur up the bilateral trade and investment.

Traders also aver that the facility would instantaneously provide impetus to the Nepal's exports for items like handmade woolen carpet, pashmina and others which are hardly within the cover of GSP (generalized system of preferences).

While responding to Nepal's bygone efforts to secure zero-duty facility for readymade garment, USTR a few months back, forwarded TIFA's manuscript to the Commerce Department. The Department too while recommending few changes in the document, right away optimistically responded to the offer.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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