U.S. Statement at the Trade Policy Review of Nepal

U.S. Statement delivered by Chris WilsonTPR logo
Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization

Geneva, December 3, 2018

Thank you, Chair.

The United States welcomes the participation of the delegation of Nepal, headed by Mr. Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Secretary of the Ministry, Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, to the WTO’s second review of Nepal’s trade policies and practices.  We greatly appreciate the reports prepared by the Nepalese Government and the WTO Secretariat for WTO Members’ consideration prior to this meeting.  These reports have helped outline Nepal’s economic policies and highlight the impressive steps taken by Nepal to secure the benefits of an increasingly open trade and investment regime.

The United States recognizes that acceding to the WTO can pose particular challenges for LDCs, but Nepal has met those challenges and used the opportunity to enhance its economic climate. The United States commends Nepal’s commitment to bring its trade and investment regime into compliance with WTO rules.

During its first TPR, Nepal was widely commended for the significant progress it made in implementing the obligations undertaken in its accession protocol and for enacting market-driven policies to spur economic growth.  Nepal should continue to be encouraged.  During the period of review, Nepal announced policies to expand trade, investment, and economic growth, including, among others, the Trade Policy 2015, Foreign Investment Policy 2015, National Trade Integration Strategy 2016, and the National Intellectual Property Policy 2017. The United States would also like to commend Nepal for ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement and for takingactions to streamline customs procedures and adopt other trade facilitation measures.

Nepal has taken these positive steps in the face of serious difficulties, including the devastating earthquakes in 2015. This is a testament to Nepal’s determination to overcome inherent geographicdifficulties, such as being a landlocked country.  The United States would like to congratulate Nepal for promulgating a new constitution in 2015 and successfully completing parliamentary elections in 2017.  The current era of political stability presents an opportunity for Nepal to continue to reform its trade policies and increase economic growth.  We encourage Nepal to continue to make the most of trade and investment policy tools, enshrined in the framework of the WTO, to help improve the lives of its people and ensure a full economic recovery.  We also encourage Nepal to continue working with the Secretariat to meet its notification obligations.

The United States has a long history of economic engagement with Nepal, and we are particularly pleased to continue advancing that engagement through our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Nepal.  This Agreement establishes an ongoing mechanism for us to discuss trade and investment issues of mutual interest and further strengthen the bilateral economic relationship. In 2016, the United States also implemented a preference program that provides duty-free treatment through December 31, 2025 for 77 types of products from Nepal, including certain carpets, headgear, shawls, and scarves.  This program is designed to improve Nepal’s export competitiveness and support Nepal’s economic recovery effort following the earthquakes. The United States stands ready and committed to work with Nepal, bilaterally and with other Members through the WTO, to enhance Nepal’s investment climate, TBT and SPS regimes, IPR protection, and other areas of trade policy to enhance Nepal’s economic growth.

The United States offers our questions and comments on the Nepal trade regime in a constructive spirit, and we would like to thank the Nepalese delegation for considering and responding to them.  While we support Nepal’s ongoing efforts to reform its trade policy regime, we also encourage Nepal to increase its efforts towards regulatory transparency and to make more extensive and effective use of WTO notification procedures.

In closing, the United States appreciates this opportunity to participate in this discussion and looks forward to engaging with the delegation from Nepal and other members on its trade and investment regime.  We commend Nepal’s efforts to implement its WTO obligations and thank Nepal for its answers to our written questions. We wish Nepal a successful review.

Thank you.