The formal relations that started in 1816 has ever since remained cordial and friendly and has continued to flourish to the mutual benefit of both countries. The Treaty of Sugauli (1816) first provided for the exchange of accredited Ministers to each other’s court. This continued until 1923 when a new Treaty of Friendship between Great Britain and Nepal was signed. Subsequently the status of British Representative in Kathmandu was upgraded to the level of an Envoy. In 1934 Nepal established a legation in London and the two countries exchanged Ministers Plenipotentiary and Envoys Extraordinary. In 1947, the status of these representatives was promoted to the level of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
Exchange of visits
Exchange of visits has been a feature of Nepal-UK relations, starting from Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana’s visit to UK in 1850. There have been several visits from the British royals including Queen Elizabeth twice, in 1960 and 1986. Some of the major recent visits are mentioned below:
- The speaker of Legislature Parliament of Nepal, Rt. Hon. Mrs. Onsari Gharti Magar led a delegation of Nepalese Parliamentarians in a visit to UK from 17 – 23 April 2016.
- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Kamal Thapa visited UK from from 26 to 28 April 2016 and on 16-19 December 2015.
- Chief Justice Mr. Kedar Prasad Giri paid an official visit to the UK as the guest of the British Government on June 22-28, 2008. Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokharel visited the UK on 10-11 July 2008 to participate in the 7th Assembly of Electoral Democracy.
- Minister of Home Affairs Bhim Bahadur Rawal paid a visit to the UK from 28 Feb. to 05 March 2010.
- Prime Minister, Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba paid an official visit to the UK in 1996 and 2002. Prime Ministers Man Mohan Adhikari (in 1995) and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai (in 1999) had also visited the UK.
- Foreign Ministers Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat and Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani visited the UK in 1999 and in 1995 respectively. Chiefs of Army Staff have also paid official visits to the UK. There has been a regular exchange of parliamentary delegations between the two countries.
- Late King Mahendra (in 1960), late King Birendra (in 1980, 1995) and former King Gyanendra (in 2003) visited the UK.
From the UK:
- His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales visited Nepal from 19 to 28 March 2016 to mark the bicentennary of the relations between the two countries.
- Secretary of State for International Development, Hon. Justine Greening, and DFID’s Director General, Mr. Joy Hutcheon visited Nepal for providing UK support (advisory, strategic and funding assistance) on 19th May 2015.
- Minister for International Development Hon. Desmond Swayne visited Nepal on 18-20 February 2015 and on 27 August 2015 to overview and examine DFID’s bilateral programmes in Nepal.
- As a part of the bilateral parliamentary visits between Nepal and the UK, Parliamentarians – Rt Hon Sir John Stanley MP (Conservative), Jackie Doyle-Price MP (Conservative), Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour), Baroness Northover (Liberal Democrat) and Virendra Sharma (Labour), Charlie Holloway (BGIPU Secretariat to Nepal) paid a visit to Nepal on 14-19 September 2014.
- Sir Peter Wall, Chief of Army Staff, British Army visited Nepal in November 2012.
- Minister of State for International Development Mr. Alan Duncan visited Nepal in Juen 2012 and May 2010.
- Kevan Jones, Under Secretary of State for Defence paid his first visit to Nepal in April 2009.
- Minister for International Development Michael Foster visited Nepal from 24 to 27 November 2008. Similarly, Mr. Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN visited Nepal on July 18-19, 2008.
- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh paid a state visit to Nepal in 1960 and in 1986. Diana, late Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles paid visits to Nepal in 1993 and 1998.
British cooperation to Nepal started in 1961. British volunteers were engaged in Nepal since 1964 under the British volunteer programme.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is the British Government department responsible for providing UK’s official development cooperation to needy countries around the world, including Nepal. The DFID opened its office in Kathmandu in March 1999.
Current Development Partnership Arrangement between Nepal and the UK in 2013 superseded the technical cooperation agreement that was signed on 31st May 1994. This forms an important guiding framework for the ongoing and future cooperation. Based on the framework, DFID’s Operational Plan for Nepal for 2011 – 2015 with the commitment of up to £331 million of UK social development assistance was a substantial support in Nepal’s development efforts.
In the year 2012/13, the UK aid to Nepal was £55.93 million which jumped to £104.7 million in 2013/14. The aid for 2014/2015, however, was at £86 million. Currently, the annual development cooperation from UK stands around Sterling Pounds 100 million.
Similarly, the UK pledged $110 during the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction in Kathmandu in June 2015.
The United Kingdom is among the top ten trading partners of Nepal. The following figures reflect Nepal’s exports to and imports from UK during the past years:
Value in USD
|2012||15,450,246||21,032,109||-5, 581, 863|
|2013||21,747,129||27,973,322||-6, 226, 193|
|2014||23,402,672||30,812,826||-7, 410, 154|
|2015||25,604,394||16,479,577||19, 124, 817|
Major Nepalese exports to UK are pashmina shawls, goatskin, leather goods, Nepalese paper and paper products, woollen carpets, handicrafts, ready-made garments, silverware and jewellery. Likewise, major imports from UK are copper scrap, hard drinks, cosmetics, medicine and medical equipment, textiles, copper wire rod, machinery and parts, aircraft and spare parts, scientific research equipment, office equipment and stationery.
An agreement on promotion and protection of investment between Nepal and UK was signed on March 2, 1993. Nepal-Britain Chamber of Commerce and Industry is active in promoting trade and investment between Nepal and UK.
A sizable number of British tourists visit Nepal for trekking, mountaineering and other leisurely activities. A total of about 37,759 tourists visited Nepal in 2014 year. The figure for 2015 was 29,730, a 10 per cent decline which could be attributed to the earthquake in that year. The figure is a substantial number. UK is among the primary tourism generating market for Nepal. Given our historical linkages and increasing people-to-people contacts, the prospects for increasing the tourist arrival from UK in Nepal are quite promising. Keeping this fact in view, Nepal has been actively promoting Nepal as an attractive tourist destination for British public.
|No. of Tourists||39,091||41,294||35,668||36,759||29730||46295|
Source: Nepal Tourism Statistics 2016
British fellowships to Nepal began from the 1950s. These programs have contributed to addressing Nepal’s need for trained, specialized human resources and further, develop important links between the two peoples. Until today, the British Government has been regularly providing scholarships in different areas of human resource development in Nepal since 1950s.