Trade policy reforms and expanding two-way trade that totaled only $123 million in 2015 were among the topics the U.S. and Nepal discussed June 10 in Washington, D.C. The meeting was only the second to be held under the U.S.-Nepal Trade and Investment Framework Agreement that entered into force in April 2011.
According to a joint statement, Nepal adopted in 2015 a trade policy outlining market-oriented reforms designed to help the country better integrate into global production networks, move up the value chain and increase its competitiveness in goods and services. Nepal is also working on a trade integration strategy that would help it overcome competitiveness challenges by building capacity for trade, facilitating transport, improving technical regulations and promoting trade in services. Further, Nepal is developing an intellectual property policy meant to foster innovation.
Nepal requested technical assistance from the U.S. for these efforts, including maximizing its utilization of U.S. trade preferences. These include the Generalized System of Preferences, which offers duty-free access to the U.S. market for nearly 5,000 products from Nepal and more than 100 other developing countries, as well as benefits provided under Section 915 of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act for textile and apparel products from Nepal that meet specific eligibility criteria. One press article noted that the latter benefits could apply to as many as 66 items, depending on whether the U.S. determines them to be import-sensitive, but that manufacturers say most of them are not produced in Nepal.
The joint statement said the U.S. agreed only to “explore the possibility of extending trade capacity building support to Nepal” and to “exchange information to support Nepal’s on-going efforts of developing laws and regulations to promote trade.” The two sides also held “technical discussions” and pledged to “deepen their engagement” on issues such as promoting investment in Nepal, customs and trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, food safety, standards and conformity assessment, services trade and labor.