KATHMANDU: Bangladesh today informed that it is providing ‘visa on arrival’ facility to Nepalis, apart from duty free access to around 100 primary commodities that are mainly agriculture products like fruits and vegetables.

During the fourth secretarial level talks today between Nepal and Bangladesh in Kathmandu, Dhaka informed that it has already circulated its immigration the new policy to provide visa on arrival to Nepali nationals.

In South Asia, Nepalis do not need a visa to visit India due to historical and cultural ties between the two South Asian nations. However, other South Asian countries might also follow suit, as the free movement of people in the region is key for South Asia’s integration to promote intra-regional trade and tourism. Bangladesh will be the second country to provide visa on arrival to Nepalis besides Singapore.

“Dhaka has also provided Nepal duty free access to around 100 primary commodities too,” according to joint secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Naindra Prasad Upadhaya.

Nepal has sought duty free access to agriculture products — like tomatoes and lentils without any duty as lentil has been Nepal’s biggest exports to Bangladesh — but exporters have been facing difficulties despite huge demand because of high duty.

Both sides also discussed on trade facilitation, customs and immediate implementation of quarantine facility on the border to expedite bilateral trade, he said, adding that the talks are heading towards a positive direction.

“We discussed on early implementation of quarantine, cold storage and store house on border points, apart from full-fledged operation of Kakarbhitta-Panitanki-Phulbari-Banglabandh corridor to allow Nepali trucks up to the Banglabandh port,” said Upadhaya, who is leading the technical committee that will finalise the transit issue.

Nepal has also been facing hurdles in promoting trade and tourism with Bangladesh — the third largest export destination of Nepal after India and the United States — due to lack of proper connectivity between the two South Asian nations.

“The visiting delegation has also agreed to provide additional rail corridor to Nepal through Rohanpur-Singhabad broadgauge line to boost bilateral trade and transit but Nepal needs to enter into an agreement with India to take its benefit,” he added.

Despite the tremendous potential for expansion and diversification, the volume of bilateral trade has not seen much improvement lately. Nepal exported goods worth Rs 3.47 billion in the last fiscal year, whereas imports from Bangladesh were worth Rs 1.10 billion.

Nepal mainly exports lentils, oil cakes, cardamom, wheat, vegetable seeds, and noodles to Bangladesh, and imports industrial raw materials, chemicals, fabrics and textile materials, jute products, and electric and electronic items.

A 15-member Nepali delegation led by the commerce secretary Lalmani Joshi and the eight-member Bangladesh delegation led by the commerce secretary Md Ghulam Hussain will hold talks tomorrow as well to further boost bilateral ties.

Source: The Himalayan Times ( 2012-07-30)