Seminar on “High Growth Trajectory in China and India: Opportunities and Challenges to Harness Development Potentials in Nepal”

Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) organized one-day seminar on the above topic on July 6 2012 in Kathmandu. It was attended by H.E. Yang Houlan, The ambassador of Peoples’ Republic of China, and Economic and Foreign Relations experts of Nepal. Hon. DPM and Foreign Minister Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha was the Chief Guest and Key Note speaker.

Three papers were presented, one on “High Growth Trajectory in China and India and the Opportunity to Harness Nepal’s Growth Potentials” by Dr. Dilli Raj Khanal, former Member of National Planning Commission. Mr. Khanal’s presentation was chaired by Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, former Finance Minister. The Second paper was on “Optimizing Investment-Trade Nexus in Nepal in Partnership with India and China” by Dr. Ratnakar Adhikari, Chief Executive Director of SAWTEE. This Session was chaired by Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, former Foreign and Finance Minister. The 3rd paper was on “Booming Tourist Outflows from China and India: Prospects of their Destination to Nepal” by Dr. Surbir Paudyal, Associate Profossor of TU. This session was chaired by Mr. Leelamani Paudyal, Chief Secretary, Government of Nepal.

Following is the Key Note Address by Hon’ble DPM and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Narayan Kaji Shrestha.

Chairperson and Executive Director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs,
Your Excellency Ambassador Yang Houlan of China,
Friends from media
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you this morning and to share with you few words on the theme of today’s seminar. I would like to thank the Institute of Foreign Affairs for organizing the seminar with the theme “High Growth Trajectory in China and India: Opportunities and Challenges to Harness Development Potentials in Nepal,” which is timely and has much more relevance today.

Nepal lies between the two big countries-China and India-Which represent the world’s two largest and fastest emerging economies. Their bilateral trade has continuously grown over the past two decades. Both countries have committed to strengthening their relations and increasing bilateral trade from $ 60 billion at present to $ 100 billion by 2015.

It is an acknowledged fact that we cannot afford to ignore the developments taking place in the region, while our own system is evolving with adaptation and innovation. The two emerging economies in our neighborhood would be both opportunity and challenge to us. For this, we need to ponder over linkages of growing economies with our national economy. Failure to manage national economy will give rise to its gradual marginalization and exclusion from the mainstream of the process of regional economic integration. Therefore, it will be imperative for us to explore appropriately the ways and means for ensuring mutual benefits of integration of regional economies.
On the other hand, deepened economic relations between China and India, I am sure, would have considerable impacts on Nepalese economy, in view of our open borders on the south and increasing infrastructure developments on the north. As experts of development, trade and investment policies, your deliberations here today should focus on how Nepal can benefit from its linkages with both China and India in general and particularly their growing economies.
We can identify infrastructural linkage, economic linkage and linkage in ideas and thoughts that will further strengthen our relations with neighbors, propelled by, no doubt, interdependence and technology. I think this will perfectly suit with new concept that Nepal’s geographical “land linked” position would serve not only her own interests but also those of her both neighbors. Thus, such a strategic location of Nepal can be beneficial to investors, manufacturers and businessmen locating their investments, manufacturing plants and businesses in Nepal and they may access to markets in our both sides. Therefore, India and China will also benefit from such interdependence, in terms of opportunities that will be available for their trade and investment as well.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that the Government of Nepal has maintained close and cordial relations with her both immediate neighbors-China and India. Our bilateral relations are time-tested and have grown from strength to strength. There are ample opportunities for further strengthening our relations in the days ahead.
I am confident that diversity in our population, society and culture has provided a solid foundation for enhancing trade, investment and economic co-operation among three countries- China, India and Nepal. These countries are endowed with vast natural resources for development potentials.
We are aware that we are living in an era of globalization, marked by sweeping technological changes and information revolution. It is certain that more changes will undergo at a rapid pace forcing us to readjust our social and economic policies. I believe that such readjustment will generate new added momentum and boost our national economies.
In this context, let us look into some fundamentals of our national economies. For Nepal, agriculture, water and human resources provide comparative advantage for generating economic growth through sufficient investment in these sectors as well as education and health. The Government of Nepal has made its efforts towards making investment friendly environment. As you already know, pursuant to the previous announcement, the Government of Nepal is going to launch the “Investment Year 2012/13” later in the current month of July. The Government has identified a number of big investment projects of national pride that will contribute to Nepal’s overall socio-economic development.
I also wish to mention that cultural affinity among China, India and Nepal is marked by exchange of scholars, pilgrims and ordinary folks since immemorial time. In this regard, the Visit Lumbini Year 2012 would be a fitting opportunity for pilgrims and other tourists to visit Nepal.
Likewise, I would like to highlight some other potential sectors for investment such as tourism, agriculture, communication, and road and infrastructure development. The investors from our immediate neighboring countries may bring their capitals, technology and knowledge to create economic opportunities for this region. Our development partners can extend their hands to Nepal, as least developed country, for complementing her efforts for socio-economic development.
Last but not least, the Government of Nepal is fully committed to mobilizing national resources in order to accelerate economic growth by increasing investment in infrastructure and thus generating employment. I am confident that your participation and valuable contributions to deliberations on the pertinent issues will be useful for future course of action.
I wish you all every success in your deliberation and thank you for your kind attention.
Thank you all.