Kathmandu: India can play a key role in Nepal's bid to expand its international trade being a close neighbour of the landlocked Himalayan nation, a top UN official has said.
India is already a major trading partner of Nepal with free movement of goods, services and labour, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (LLDCs) Fekita 'Utoikamanou said.
"India is part of South-South cooperation which is playing an increasingly important role in addressing the persistent development challenges of vulnerable groups of countries including LLDCs through trade, technology transfer, development finance, infrastructure development and collective solutions to address emerging challenges such as climate change," she said.
"The Motor Vehicles Agreement of 2015 between Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India (BBIN) aims to facilitate the movement of cargo across their borders," Fakita said.
Several railways infrastructure projects in Nepal have been undertaken with India's assistance, she pointed out. India can also help Nepal by improving trade facilitation through improved simplification and harmonisation of border crossing procedures, she told PTI in the backdrop of the recently-concluded UN Conference on LLDC.
"This can help reduce delays at the borders and trade costs. Both India and Nepal have ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and their enhanced implementation of the agreement will help to achieve improved trade facilitation," Fakita said.
The LLDCs are amongst some of the most vulnerable countries, she said. "It is one of the three groups of countries that my office has been created to serve and advocate for.”
"Some 90 per cent of the world's trade is carried by sea. Their location makes LLDCs isolated from major centers of economic and trade activity and lack economies of scale," Fakita said, adding these factors make it expensive for LLDCs to conduct trade, attract investment and achieve sustainable development.
The UN Office of the High Representative for LLDC and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) is ensuring effective follow-up, implementation, monitoring and review of the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action, she said.
"It is supporting Nepal as an LLDCs in its efforts to implement the priority areas of the Vienna Programme of Action that include fundamental transit policy issues, infrastructure development and maintenance, international trade and trade facilitation, regional integration, structural economic transformation and means of implementation," the diplomat added.