Remarks by The Hon’ble Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs, at a Seminar on “Nepal-India Relations: Issues, Emerging Trends and Boosting Cooperation” organized by the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA)
Kathmandu, 17 February 2019
CEO/Founder of Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs Mr. Sunil K.C.,
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi,
Ambassador of India to Nepal, H. E. Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri,
Ambassador-designate of Nepal to India Mr. Nilambar Acharya,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I thank Mr. Sunil K.C., CEO/Founder of the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs, for organizing this seminar and inviting me to speak. I found the theme of the seminar, “Nepal-India Relations: Issues, Emerging Trends and Boosting Cooperation” highly relevant. I am sure that the deliberations during this seminar would be helpful in generating insights into the ways for further enhancing cooperation between our two countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Needn’t to say, Nepal and India enjoy a cordial and friendly relationship. Our relations are age-old, time tested, comprehensive, deep and extensive. Linkages of history, culture, tradition and religion have further nurtured our relations. Social and economic lives of our peoples are interlinked. A firm commitment to the principles of peaceful coexistence, sovereign equality, mutual respect and understanding of each other’s aspirations and sensitivities characterize our relations.
Regular exchanges, both at high political level and at the people-to-people level, reflect the depth of our relations and form the very foundation of our engagements in diverse fields.
We remain thankful for India’s generous support and cooperation in our development efforts over the decades. India’s cooperation in infrastructure development and human resource development among others has been helpful in achieving socio-economic transformation of the country.
Our two countries hold tremendous potential of enhancing cooperation in diverse sectors. Long historical bonds, interdependency in diverse sectors and desire of the people of both side ask us to establish a broader collaboration and common efforts in our development journey. However, the immense natural resources that we have been gifted with have not yet been properly harnessed. Economic interlinkages are yet to be consolidated. We are yet to benefit fully from mutual complementarity in many other areas. We need to make further efforts for a meaningful partnership so as to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Talking about the national context of Nepal, I would like to share with you that our whole focus is on translating the present Government’s motto of ‘Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali’ into reality. In order to realize this, we strive to achieve socio-economic development and prosperity, building on the dividend of political transformation.
However, we will need huge financial resources including foreign investment in productive sectors in our quest. I am happy to mention here that we are hosting an International Investment Summit on 29-30 March this year to invite foreign investors to Nepal. Our full efforts are currently focused on ensuring a predictable, secure and attractive investment climate in Nepal. In this context, we invite Indian investors to participate in the Summit as well as to make substantial investment in Nepal. If worked properly, we can establish a vivid and wide-range production, supply and value chains in the interest of both side.
Tourism is on of the most important area of bilateral cooperation. Having the shared the cultural and social traditions, values and way of life, both countries can be benefitted by tourism. There are a number of cultural and religious sites common to our people in both countries. Promotion of linkages between Hindu and Buddhist heritage sites in the two countries would be important to further consolidate cultural bonds as well as to promote tourism.
This holds more significance as we continue to promote tourism as a vital sector to contribute to our economic growth. As Nepal is observing 2020 as Visit Nepal Year with a target of welcoming two million tourists, meaningful engagement between the public and private sectors of our two countries would be vital.
Nepal and India can generate more benefits by promoting robust economic partnership. India has been making speedy progress in advancing its economy. We look forward to a strong partnership with India for the transformation of our economy to sustain our drive of economic prosperity.
Nepal and India share the collaborative platforms in various regional and sub-regional forums. Our countries have vital role in the SAARC and BIMSTEC. In the pursuits of regional development, we are engaged closely in these forums. BBIN initiative provides yet another important platform for sub-regional collaboration. As South Asia is the least integrated region despite of huge natural and Human Resources, it is in the interest of both countries to promote regional cooperation, collaboration and joint efforts to face the common challenges.
Technology is the key to innovation and transformation. India, equipped with the modern technology, has established itself as a leading force in driving development. Nepal also aspires to benefit from India’s technological expertise and innovation. Transfer of knowledge and technology will enable us to accelerate the pace of economic development.
Infrastructure development remains a priority of our partnership. Socio-economic development cannot advance in the absence of adequate infrastructure. Geographical proximity and open border offer us an opportunity to develop connectivity in all forms – road, rail, water and air. I am pleased to recall that our two countries are working seriously towards developing cross-border railways, roadways, inland water ways, airways and electrical grid connectivity to promote trade, tourism and investment. Latest understandings in these sectors are encouraging.
Hydropower development is the area that promises great opportunities for collaboration. We have not been able to fully exploit our huge water resources potential despite the pressing need of energy in both countries. We need investment and technology as well as free access to power markets to move forward.
Trade and transit are vital components of Nepal-India bilateral relations. India is our top trading partner in terms of both export and import while Nepal is among India’s top twenty export destinations. A matter of concern in this regard is Nepal’s growing trade deficit, which we must address for our trade to create a win-win scenario. We need more trade facilitation measures, including removal of all barriers. Both sides need to expedite early conclusion of the ongoing comprehensive review of the bilateral Trade Treaty.
Our two countries are endowed with resources, we need are innovative ways and means to harness these resources for economic growth and development for mutual benefit. Development should be the important pillar of our relations in the present context.
India’s achievements in economic fronts are remarkable. It has built infrastructure, developed manufacturing, excelled in services trade, expanded export base and increased agricultural productivity. As India progresses, we see in that an abounding opportunity to benefit. A stable and prosperous Nepal is equally beneficial to India as well.
Adverse effects of climate change can be felt everywhere and widely. It has posed a serious threat to the lives of millions people both side. It is a challenge which can faced only by collaborative efforts. Despite of tremendous achievements in the science, technology and innovations, millions people are still deprived and facing poverty. This is the problem which can be finally triumphed only by collective measures. Terrorism still poses a serious challenge against the humanity, and its black shadows is still roaming in this region. It too warrants the common and coordinating resolve. In the nutshell, our relation requires a higher level of collaboration and partnership.
While speaking about the relations that we would like to see in the context of the 21st century, I would like to fondly recall the exchange of visits by the Prime Ministers of Nepal and India in April and May last year which has generated a new dynamism in our bilateral relations. Our two sides are committed to taking bilateral relations to newer heights by strengthening ongoing cooperation in diverse spheres as well as to expanding partnership on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual trust, respect and mutual benefit. While focusing on effective implementation of all the past agreements and understandings, both sides have intensified engagement for addressing the outstanding matters with the objective of advancing cooperation in all areas.
In view of such focused attention from both sides on enhancing engagements in the areas of common interest, we look forward to a mutually beneficial outcome in coming days. Nepal aims at further deepening its cooperation with its immediate neighbour- India with particular focus on advancing economic partnership.
I conclude by thanking once again AIDIA for organizing this seminar and for this opportunity to share my observations. I wish this event a success.