Keynote Address by Hon. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs
at Nepal Promotion Programme for Honorary Consuls General/ Consuls of Nepal on 26 June 2019, Kathmandu
Honorary Consuls General and Consuls of Nepal,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Namaste and Good Morning!
It is indeed a great pleasure to address this first ever gathering of Honorary Consuls/Consuls of Nepal’s hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Let me thank you all for your valuable participation in this important Nepal Promotion programme.
We intend to showcase Nepal and its potential through your active participation and cooperation for the promotion of trade, tourism, foreign investment and foreign employment in the outside world. I am confident that the program will be informative, interactive and productive and will contribute to furthering Nepal’s national economic interests abroad.
I am happy to share with you the recent developments in our country. With the promulgation of a democratic and inclusive constitution in 2015, Nepal has successfully completed the nationally-led and owned unique peace process. The new constitution embraces universally accepted democratic values, norms and principles. Competitive multi-party elections, respect for fundamental human rights, free press, independent and impartial judiciary, strong commitment to rule of law and good governance remain the salient features of our constitution. The constitution has institutionalized democratic gains of the people achieve through successive people’s movement and established a federal democratic republic as per the wish of the people of Nepal.
Through the elections held in 2017, federal governance structures in all three tiers (namely federal, provincial and local level) have been operationalized. Strongly mandated governments both at the federal level and in all seven provinces have been formed. Likewise, 753 local governments have been functional across the country. With these developments, the protracted political transition has come to an end.
Now the government’s single-minded focus is on development and prosperity. For this, we have embarked on a journey of socio-economic transformation. We have defined ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ as our overarching national aspiration. We aspire to be a nation that is economically prosperous, institutionally sustained and socially inclusive.
To achieve this vision, we strive to attain high economic growth through the mobilization of both domestic and foreign investment, optimizing our export trade, promoting tourism and forging synergetic partnerships with private sectors and other stakeholders.
Earlier in March this year, we successfully organized Investment Summit to showcase Nepal’s enormous potentials as a promising investment destination in multiple sectors. During the Summit, 77 projects were presented and we received a number of investment proposals, from our immediate neighbors and other friendly nations, to advance these projects.
Political stability has been achieved that ensures predictability, consistency, coherence and stability in policies.
Needless to emphasize, all political parties in Nepal have common voice on the agenda of development and prosperity.
The Government is fully committed to creating an investment-friendly environment not by words but by actions. In this context, we have undertaken a number of policy, legal, institutional and procedural reform measures. This will enable investment from domestic private sector and foreign investors.
The Constitution of Nepal has guaranteed property rights, and also has taken a clear State Policy to encourage foreign capital and technological investment.
Nepal has adopted liberal economic policy and welcomes foreign capital and technological investment in national priority sectors.
We have enacted two important legislations namely Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act (FITTA) and Public-Private Partnership and Investment Act to encourage investment.
The Public Private Partnership and Investment Act provides one stop service for any foreign investment of over Nepali Rupees 6 billion or a hydropower project over 200 MW capacity. The one stop service has come into operation. Similarly, FITTA ensures national treatment for any foreign investment and repatriation of return has been guaranteed.
We offer an attractive incentive package in terms of corporate taxation, import duties, and export facilitation. Tax rates are predictable and tax holidays are guaranteed by the law for those industries that meet the criteria.
Procedures for land acquisition, company registration, environmental assessment and infrastructure development have been simplified. Online registration and payment system have been put in place.
With an aim of promoting good governance and rule of law, the government is committed to implementing zero-tolerance policy on corruption.
An independent judiciary, capable of adjudicating industrial and investment related disputes on a fast-track basis, has been a mainstay of our legal system.
Nepal is a land of ample opportunities for investors. We allow 100 percent investment in almost all sectors. The negative list is very short.
As we are rich in natural resource endowments and have huge demographic dividend, Nepal’s future for development is very bright. Let me highlight some of the major areas that have the potentials to transform the economic landscape of our country.
With its vast geographical and bio diversity-comprising the arable land just 80 meter above the sea level to the top of the world, Nepal offers immense potentials for investment in agriculture sectors.
More than 40,000 MW of hydropower is economically viable. However, a fraction has been realized so far.
The Power Trade Agreement with India, MoU on BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection and MoU on Power Trade between Nepal and Bangladesh serve as an important regulatory framework to encourage investment in hydropower projects.
Nepal is also a reservoir of mines and minerals such as iron, cement and precious stones. Investment in this sector is equally profitable.
An attractive tourist destination with world renowned heritage sites, most favoured trekking routes, fascinating wild lives and amazing scenic beauty, with hospitable and welcoming people, investment in tourism sectors guarantees high return from investment.
Nepal is located between India and China, two of the fastest growing economies with more than 2.5 billion population. We enjoy excellent relations with both of our neighbours. Nepal has been enjoying trade preferences with neighbours. Therefore, investors in Nepal do have assured markets.
In addition to this, Nepal, as an LDC, enjoys duty-free and quota free market access in advanced economies including EU and the USA.
Investors will also be benefitted by the relatively competitive labour forces available in Nepal. We have about 57 percent of population representing the working age group. English-speaking human resources are easily available in Nepal.
We have signed Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements as well as Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements with a number of countries.
Despite of our best efforts, FDI flow in Nepal remains minimal. Under such circumstances, we need to execute robust economic diplomacy, soliciting potential investors that investment in Nepal is profitable with win-win opportunities for both investors and Nepal.
I would like to underline that huge investment is need of the day. It is a top priority of the Government. In this situation, we have an important responsibility of branding Nepal’s image abroad as promising destination for investment. Effective economic diplomacy is the call of the day.
Missions and Consulates General should regularly organize promotional activities on trade, investment, culture and tourism and advocate for Nepal’s interest in the countries they are accredited to.
We need to convince investors that political climate is supportive. Regulatory framework is sound. Policy, legal and institutional framework is enabling and encouraging. Regional ambience is equally promising.
We are celebrating the year 2020 as Visit Nepal Year with a goal to attract more than 2 million tourists. We need to publicize Nepal’s tourism potentials in respective countries to meet our goal.
We need to establish good network with local business community, NRNS, business chambers, tourism and donor agencies and disseminate information on economic issues through them.
Regular contact with media and expanding network with businesses and investors is also essential to publicize Nepal’s positive image abroad. Local journalists can be encouraged to travel to Nepal and write promotional blogs in local media.
Our collective efforts for socio-economic prosperity and progress of Nepal will deliver desired outcome.
I am confident that discussion and interaction today and tomorrow will enhance understanding, clear confusions, if any, and encourage us to move with full confidence to contribute to our goal of development and prosperity.
I thank you for your kind attention and wish you a pleasant stay.