A fresh start for Sri Lanka Nepal economic ties | Daily News

A fresh start for Sri Lanka Nepal economic ties

There is now promise of a better climate for Sri Lanka Nepal economic ties.This comes about as a result of that country’s return to stability following the advent of a new Government.

For about a decade or more Nepal suffered from political instability which invariably impacts on the economy of a nation.

A constitutional imbroglio was the causative factor and as a consequence there was no proper functioning of the machinery of the state and this Himalayan nation was for long in a state of virtual inertia.External relations and ties which are important too, for greater good of a nation suffered.

It now seems that such destabilisation of the country is a thing of the past.Irrespective of the state of affairs in Nepal, both Sri Lanka and that country have had the most cordial of relations leading to many worthy exchanges and especially visits between the leaderships of both countries in quite a number of spheres.

Significantly both our countries are members of the eight nation SAARC, its trade promotion arm, the SAPTA and our diplomatic ties are over 50 years old. Nepal a country of great natural beauty is landlocked and this has to a substantial degree formed a natural barrier to certain aspects of economic development like trade between Nepal and her South Asian neighbours, such as Sri Lanka.

As a consequence and owing to such circumstances Nepal largely conducts trade with India and China the large Border States on each side of her divide. On the other hand, Nepal’s most vital asset Tourism does not seem to be too affected by the physical barrier.

And Nepal’s biggest foreign exchange earner is Tourism and other ancillary activities which continue to thrive. Many Sri Lankan Buddhists visit Nepal on pilgrimages since Nepal is the land where the Buddha was born and every Buddhist dreams of paying homage to the birthplace of their revered religious leader.

The formation of the Sri Lanka-Nepal Business Council in 2000

With a view to tapping the potential for the promotion of trade, tourism and other ties with Nepal which had long lacked an institutional mechanism, a Business Council was established in the year 2000, through the initiative of the Nepal Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lanka Nepal Friendship Society.

This Council owes its establishment to the then Consul of the Nepal Embassy, Sudir Battarai and the late Capt.D.A. Wickremasinghe, President of the Sri Lanka Nepal Friendship Society. Capt. Wickremasinghe had been a pioneer travel personality, who had led tours of pilgrims to Buddha Gaya in Lumbini through his firm Streamline Services Ltd.,

The Council has throughout conducted all its activities in conjunction with the Nepal Embassy. Such activities covered exchanging trade information and trade inquiries received from Nepal, meeting delegations on trade from Nepal, assisting Sri Lankans travelling to that country fortrade and similar other purposes and establishing linkages between the local and Nepal counter parts and conducting test-marketing exercises. The council also published a Newsletter listing trade opportunities and information pertaining to economic developments in Nepal.

In 2008 it entered in to an M.O.U with the Nepal Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Nepal and Foreign Trade

The Council in response to a request made by the Nepal Embassy in Colombo supported Nepal in its bid to be a member of the World Trade Organisation.

Seminar – Window on Nepal

A bi-national seminar- windowon Nepal was a landmark event which was held at the Hotel Galadari on 8th June 2008. It featured addressesby leading trade and tourism officials from both countries.

The Seminar was indeed an eye-opener as to the possibilities of expanding especially the two way tourist potential between Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Direct Air Links

The Business Council has over the years made representations to Governmental authorities of both Nepal and Sri Lanka in regard to the importance of re-starting direct air-flights between Colombo and Kathmandu. Such flights were stopped in the early years of 2000.That was a big blow to pilgrims to Lumbini. There were at times favourable reactions from officials of both countries to our appeals but flights did not resume. As a result pilgrims had to take a circuitous route which was costly and time consuming.

Though our endeavours did not lead to the desired results for several years, we are now glad that direct flights have been restored and a new airline based in Nepal has taken the initiative to resume such flights. Direct flight would also act as incentive to generate trade and business exchanges, besides helping pilgrims also Sri Lankan students who study medicine in particular in Nepali Universities. It will also facilitate cultural exchanges and promote participation in Sports.

Foreign investment in Nepal

The Nepal Government a few years ago began a major fresh initiative to attract foreign investment which affords host of concessions and tax incentives to those who invest in Nepal. Our Council highlighted such investment opportunities in the national press so as to assist potential investors interested in Nepal, specifically in fields such as Industry, Banking, Information Technology and Agriculture.

Earthquake

Nepal which is prone to earthquake and similar other natural disasters was seriously affected by the recent earthquake which destroyed a part of Nepal besides causing the death of thousands of Nepalese. This was a major catastrophe that added to Nepal’s existent string of woes.

The Sri Lankans with their inherent penchant to assist especially neighbours in distress, were quick to respond and took several measures to alleviate those who had been affected by the earthquake.

The Sri Lanka Nepal friendship and Business Council was one such organization that made cash contributions to Nepal through the official channels designated to accept such assistance. More recently in the month of July our Council was informed that a new Ambassador to represent Sri Lanka had been appointed and would depart to Nepal shortly and that we should brief her with regard to the work of the Council and the potential for tie-ups between business interests of both sides.

 The Council in response invited SwarnalathaPerera, the Ambassador designate to meet with the office bearers and members of the Executive Committee of the Council on Thursday 28th July 2016. This body comprising 10 business persons in diverse fields and professionals were present at the meeting. Also present was the Charged-de-Affairs of the Nepal Embassy, Colombo. This resulted in a fruitful exchange of views on generating business ties.

With two new administrators in place and the restoration of stable political conditions in Nepal, the opportunities for mutually beneficial activity between Nepal and Sri Lanka seems a distinct possibility.

This brief account of the history of the SLNFBC will not be complete without mention of some stalwarts of the Council like Kumara Semage Vice President andleading businessman, the Secretary General Lakshman Perera, Chandra Ediriweera Exco member and Director Ceylon Tours and Hector Abeysirigunawardenathe second Vice President among several other well-known personalities.We also remember leading diplomats from Nepal who collaborated with the Council with singular interest to pursue the praiseworthy goal of greater tieswith the country and our council.

They were Bala Bahadir Kanwar, Durga Prasad Bhattari who were representatives of their country.

We also would like to remember the Charge-de-Affairs Sudir Bhattari who helped to form this institution in 2000. 


Add new comment