Address by Rt. Hon. K P Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal at Nepal-Cambodia Business Forum
Phnom Penh, 14 May 2019
Your Excellency Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Hon. Minister of Trade of Cambodia
Neak Okhnha Kith Meng, President, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce,
Distinguished Members of the Business Community both from Cambodia and Nepal
Friends from Media,
Ladies and gentlemen:
Good afternoon and Namaste !
It is a great pleasure to be amongst the captains of industry and business here in Phnom Penh, beautiful capital city of Cambodia.
I have brought a strong business delegation with me to take part in this important event.
I am on an official visit to Cambodia, the first-ever visit by a Prime Minister of Nepal.
Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and I have met three times in less than a year. We had the privilege of welcoming him on an official visit in Kathmandu in late November last year. Prior to that we had a meeting in September in New York on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly. This shows our growing engagements and deeper interaction between our two countries.
Thank you, dear Prime Minister, for your kind invitation to visit this country of lovely and brave people. I have been touched by the overpouring of warmth, love and affection. You have been a generous host.
I am grateful to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your kind presence in this meeting. This has profoundly inspired and will continue to inspire our business community to work together in realizing huge potentials that exist between our two countries for development.
Mr. Prime Minister, this also demonstrates your strong commitment to promote economic cooperation between our two countries. I am committed to forging strong partnership with you in advancing our economic ties for the mutual benefit of our peoples.
I am convinced that Nepal can learn a lot from Cambodia’s rapid economic development and its continuous journey to prosperity. This is more so in the context of the history of conflict in our countries and our resilience and determination to rebuild our nations.
Cambodia has transformed a lot since my last visit five years ago under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Success does not come automatically. It requires a clear vision, strong commitment, determined efforts and right mix of policies, institutions and resources. And, you have successfully proved this.
Nepal stands at a historical juncture. We have resolved our political issues and we are now single-mindedly focused on socio-economic transformation.
Today, country’s international standing depends on economic development and prosperity. Economic relations increasingly dominate the substance of inter-state engagements.
“Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali” is our national aspiration. A long-term development vision (a 25-year vision) is being crafted to meet this aspiration. We have a target of graduating from LDC status at an early date, of becoming a middle-income country and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Meeting these targets would require huge investments –in infrastructures, in human resources and in financial sector. Our domestic resources alone are not sufficient to meet these targets.
We, therefore, need support, cooperation and solidarity of the friendly countries like Cambodia.
It is with this objective in mind that I have come to this friendly country. We want to advance the process of economic engagement on both tracks-government-to-government and business-to-business.
I would like to make a special appeal to the business community of our two countries to jointly explore business opportunities in Nepal. Yesterday, our two countries signed two important instruments with the aim of enhancing economic and trade partnership between our two countries. We must take full advantage of the opportunities provided by these vital instruments.
We welcome foreign investment in Nepal to complement our efforts.
In this context, I would underline the following points for consideration of the Government and private sector of Cambodia:
First policy stability. With the formation of strong government with over two-thirds majority in the parliament, political stability has been achieved. The phase of political uncertainty and instability that characterized our past has now fortunately been over. Stable government means stability and consistency in policy. This is a fundamental prerequisite for foreign investment. And, we have met this fundamental criterion.
Second, strong and sound regulatory framework. We have undertaken a substantial reform to make Nepal an attractive destination for investment. Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act has been thoroughly revised to make it consistent with the requirements of the changed context with substantial protection measures for investors.
Likewise, we have enacted Public-Private Partnership and Investment Act to forge synergetic partnership with private sector to mobilize much needed investment in crucial sectors, including infrastructure development. Our reform process will continue and the next cycle of reform will involve issues related to intellectual property rights, among others.
Third, simplification of processes and procedures. We have simplified and streamlined the procedures to facilitate the investors. One stop service centre will come into operation from tomorrow. This will bring all relevant agencies in one place to facilitate the proposals for investment in a time-bound manner. Simplified and liberal visa rules apply to the investors and their dependents. Laws and rules pertaining to land acquisition, company registration, environment assessment and infrastructure development have been simplified and relaxed.
Fourth, market availability and access. Nepal is situated between the two largest economies of the world, India and China. Nepal enjoys preferential market access in both countries. We have given added emphasis to build strong connectivity network with both of our neighbours and serious works are underway in respect of constructing railways, roadways and inland waterways. Enhanced cross-border connectivity will greatly facilitate trade, tourism and investment. Our domestic market is also expanding with increased purchasing power of the people. In addition, Nepal is an active member of two regional organizations, SAARC and BIMSTEC where LDCs like Nepal has certain advantages in terms of regional market access. Beyond this, Nepal, by virtue of its status as an LDC, enjoys preferential access in EU and other developed countries.
Nepal also aims to increase participation in Global Value Chains (GVCs) which will bring capital and new technologies.
Our major constraint emanates from limited production capacity. Market access is not a problem.
Fifth Nepal’s incentives are striking. There is no dearth of natural and human resources. We are rich in both. 57 percent of working age population is a huge demographic dividend. We are endowed with natural resources and cultural treasures. Our water is a precious resource. It has the potential to change the development landscape of Nepal and other countries in the region.
For investors, Nepal is a virgin land. Investment anywhere and everywhere is full of potentials with assured rate of return. There are opportunities for investment in other sectors such as agriculture, mineral resources, medicinal herbs, hospitality industry and financial markets.
Large number of English speaking and digitally connected youths are our important assets. This makes ICT sector another area for profitable investment. Labour cost is low and competitive. We have flexible labour policy. A universal, contribution-based social security system is being implemented. It has ended the possibility of labour strikes and frequent industrial disputes. We have introduced low tax regimes and created conducive fiscal environment. Our tax regime is transparent, predictable and investor friendly.
Recently, we successfully organised the Investment Summit. The Summit saw participation from over 40 countries where the investors have pledged to finance 18 mega projects. The Summit has set the tone. Now it is incumbent upon us to work seriously and get realized the promises and pledges made during the Summit. We have initiated the follow up process by establishing a credible mechanism.
We invite you to invest in the development of Industrial Park and in garment processing zone in the Special Economic Zone. Government is providing supporting building roads and transmission line connectivity. We provide tax rebate for the industries established within SEZ and under developed regions.
Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam Shakya Muni and the fountain of Buddhism, and Cambodia is predominantly a Buddhist country. This is a strong link between our two countries among other several connecting factors.
We would like to welcome more and more sisters and brothers from Cambodia to Lumbini. To facilitate your travel, we are going to operationalize an international airport in Bhairahawa, just 22 KM east of Lumbini, towards the end of this year. We are talking in a positive way to establish direct air connection between our two countries. This will greatly facilitate the travel of Buddhist pilgrims and other visitors to Lumbini.
The Government of Nepal will soon start consultation with relevant authorities to host International Day of Vesak in Lumbini. I request Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen to support our bid and also encourage citizens of this country to visit Nepal. Thank you, Prime Minister, for accepting my invitation to visit Nepal and go to Lumbini.
We are firmly committed to the development of Lumbini to make it a city of world peace, harmony and understanding.
With this I conclude my remarks.
Thank you for the wonderful opportunity provided to me. Also, thank you for hosting this very important event.