prolonged political transition, lack of diplomatic staff, hurdles to economic diplomacy


By Sharachchandra Bhandary

Kathmandu, June 23: It has been widely realized that the concept of economic diplomacy, which is regarded as an important medium to attract foreign aid for the economic development of the country, could not be implemented due to prolonged political transition, inadequate skilled human resources and lack of budget.

  Although the use of economic diplomacy regarded as an integral part of international diplomacy, was first started by western countries after World War II, it became widespread with the start of globalization.

  The first initiative by Nepal was the participation in the Afro -Asian Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in April, 1955 (2011 BS)  under the initiative of the then King Mahendra with an objective of establishing Nepal's identity among the international community and for contact with the outside world.

At a time when Nepal's diplomatic relations were limited to the United Kingdom, India, China, France, and the USA, and having received UN membership on the same year, Nepal started diplomatic exercises in multilateral forums and now it is moving ahead with an expansion of relations  with 138 countries in the world.

Although the Nepali embassies in 27 countries of the world have been doing something on promoting overall national interest and attracting development aid, they have not been successful in making any remarkable progress in attaining the goals and objectives of economic diplomacy.    

Even the consulates in Kolkata, Lhasa, and Hong Kong and UN Permanent Mission in Geneva and New York  are not seen doing anything special for the  promotion of our tourism, export, and foreign investment, search of opportunities for foreign employment and development of water resources under the economic diplomacy.

Nepal received grants and technical and economic cooperation  from multilateral agencies like the UN, WTO,IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank in the seventies and after the reinstatement of democracy,  EU and countries affiliated to it also extended their helping hands in the social economic development of the country.

The government has made efforts to put into practice the concept of economic diplomacy with the adoption of the economic liberalization some two and a half decades ago, but institutionally, the Finance Ministry in the Fiscal Year 2067/ 68 BS provided some fund by allocating to the Foreign Ministry and some momentum has been given to the continuity of the initiative of economic diplomacy. Cooperation of all the stakeholders is needed to make the efforts of the Foreign Ministry meaningful and resulted-oriented, which it has started by forming a Multilateral Economic Diplomacy Division.

The objective of the economic diplomacy which is regarded an economic craftsmanship for the overall interest of the country by holding negotiations and talks with bilateral and multilateral agencies for the promotion of export, is to attract foreign investment and promotion of marketing of the products and services of the country in foreign countries.

Diplomatic staff in foreign countries should play a role of facilitator to inform the potential investors of the host country about the financial rules and regulations of Nepal, areas of comparative advantages and guarantee of investment and easy process of taking its returns by investors.

Former Foreign Minister Bhekh Bahadur Thapa suggests that efforts should be made for full guarantee of security to investors, assurance of return and integrated efforts by maintaining full transparency.

Loose administration, insecurity, lack of transparency in upper level and   people seeking immediate and undue benefit are the hindrances to economic diplomacy, he says.

  All political parties should reach agreement by fixing priorities on what form of economy to make through economic diplomacy, says former Under Secretary General of the UN, Kul Chandra Gautam.

There will be no economic diplomacy by nurturing extremist nationalist thinking harping on foreign intervention and foreign moves, he adds.

As the ambassador alone cannot do it, line ministries should cooperate and coordinate and should work collectively with FNCCI, CNI, NTB and NRN Associations and the Foreign Ministry should pay lead role says Gautam.

We should free ourselves of 'begging bowl mentality' and should present success stories rather than exhibit our backwardness and poverty and should assure the international community how it is more result-oriented in Nepal's investment than elsewhere, he said.

Former Secretary Madhuraman Acharya is of the view that targeted achievement cannot be made unless there is basic infrastructure including seasoned diplomatic staff and enough budget. Country's economic interest should be political interest, he said, adding no expected achievement could be made as the transition is prolonged.

The goals of economic diplomacy cannot be achieved unless there is proper coordination, and understanding among line ministries and ambassador and staff, says former Ambassador Pradip Khatiwada.

  CNI President Narendra Kumar Basnyat emphasizes on focusing in expanding economic activities by ambassadors rather than political interests, in order to materialize economic diplomacy.

  The ambassadors should be serious to attract investors in the country and training is needed for diplomatic staff on this, he adds. So far, Nepal has trade relations with 164 countries and economic diplomacy is the need of the hour for highlighting country's economy in bilateral, multilateral and regional level.

Nepal has not been able to garner any benefit in economic development although it is a member of BIMSTEC and SAARC. Nepal needs to move towards taking membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Boao Forum established by China.

Nepal has not only in tourism and water resource, but has enough potential in export of items of comparative advantage including medicinal herbs, oil, honey, Nepali paper and their products, mushroom, tea, cardamom, coffee, betel nut, ginger, Amliso, hand woven carpet, Pashmina, garments, leather and leather goods, and handicraft material, lentil and gold and silver ornaments, and the staffs of economic diplomacy should push for it.

The government has recently formed a high level committee under the chairmanship of foreign minister for running and monitoring economic diplomacy.  The members of the 24 -member committee has secretaries of Ministries of Foreign Ministry, Finance, Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Energy, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Labor and Employment and the National Planning Commission ( NPC).

  The committee also comprises of chiefs of Nepal Rastra Bank, FNCCI, CNI, Nepal Chamber of Commerce, NRN Association, NTB, Trade and Export Promotion Centre, Nepal Foreign Employment Association, Institute of Foreign Affairs, European Commerce Association, Nepal Bankers' Association as members. RSS Feature Service (Translated by Tirtha Bhattaraee) 



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Jagran khabar: prolonged political transition, lack of diplomatic staff, hurdles to economic diplomacy
prolonged political transition, lack of diplomatic staff, hurdles to economic diplomacy
Jagran khabar
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