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Experts urge to focus on agriculture, trade facilitation, development issues in Bali meet

Experts today stressed on three major issues as Nepal’s key focus – during the ninth Ministerial Conference of  World Trade Organisation (WTO) – as it relates to trade and development aspects of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Speaking at ‘Stakeholders’ dialogue on Nepal’s Participation at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference,’ jointly organised by Ministry of Commerce and Supplies; South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE); and Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), here today, they said that Nepal should focus the dialogue on three pillars – agriculture, trade facilitation and development dimension, that includes least-developed country (LDC) issues – at the Bali meet to be held on December 3-6.
Given the current trade off between trade facilitation and agriculture between developed country members and developing countries, mainly India, there are concerns that Bali might not be able to deliver results.
“Nevertheless, Nepal, which is also the coordinator of the LDC Group, should demand that there be a deal at least on the LDC package, which would consist of 100 per cent duty free and quota free market access, preferential rules of origin, operationalisation of services waiver and special and differential treatment,” they suggested Commerce and Supplies minister Shankar Prasad Koirala, who is leading the Nepali delegation to the Ministerial Conference.
On the trade facilitation agreement, there was a broad consensus that the agreement should have provisions on binding commitments from developed country members to provide dedicated financial and technical resources to LDCs to implement the provisions of the agreement, they reminded, adding that on agriculture, although the issues at stake currently are not very important for Nepal, from a long term perspective, Nepal’s position should be in line with the G33 proposal on food security.
Nepal’s ambassador to the WTO Dr Shankar Bairagi, on the occasion, provided an overview of the state of negotiations in Geneva and the package that LDC members have worked out and provided to the WTO.
He also pointed to the difficulty that Nepal, as the chair of the LDC Group, has had to face in reconciling all LDC members’ differing interests and concerns.
About 55 participants, including trade policy experts, policymakers, and private sector representatives participated in the dialogue that provided important inputs to the delegation that is leaving for Bali on Saturday.
Responding the experts suggestions, Koirala assured the participants that he and his team would put in all possible efforts at Bali and try to ensure that the outcomes are in favour of LDCs like Nepal.