Trade renewal in offing with largest Nepali biz visit in a decade

Daily FT

03/11/2014

Trade renewal in offing with largest Nepali biz visit in a decade

  • ‘Time for air links, new trade’: Nepal’s Dhakwa
  • ‘Sending two teams’: EDB’s Egodage
  • Bilateral trade at $ 5 m
  • ‘Come to us & get Indo, Thai markets’: Nepal’s Dhakwa

TEPC Member of Board of Directors and the leader of the visiting Nepali delegation Bikash R. Dhakwa (third from right) gifts a copper and gold dust plated Shakyamuni Buddha statue crafted by Nepali artisans to EDB Chairman and CEO Bandula Egodage on 29 October in Colombo

As Lanka-Nepal trade leaped by threefold and showed new signs of revival, the biggest Nepali business delegation to Sri Lanka after almost a decade concluded their visit successfully on 2 November and also gave an unprecedented opening for the country’s artisans to enter two of the highly profitable craft markets in the region through Nepal and Sri Lanka’s creative artisans have been invited to November’s International Fair in Kathmandu.

“Sri Lanka and Nepal have historic relations and now is the time to go to the next step; towards stronger bilateral trade. The main reason we are coming to Sri Lanka is that you have very good gem processing technology – also we need your natural precious stones,” announced Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) Member of Board of Directors and the leader of the visiting Nepali delegation Bikash R. Dhakwa on 29 October in Colombo.

As Lanka-Nepal trade leaped by threefold and showed new signs of revival, the biggest Nepali business delegation to Sri Lanka after almost a decade concluded their visit successfully on 2 November and also gave an unprecedented opening for the country’s artisans to enter two of the highly profitable craft markets in the region through Nepal and Sri Lanka’s creative artisans have been invited to November’s International Fair in Kathmandu.

“Sri Lanka and Nepal have historic relations and now is the time to go to the next step; towards stronger bilateral trade. The main reason we are coming to Sri Lanka is that you have very good gem processing technology – also we need your natural precious stones,” announced Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) Member of Board of Directors and the leader of the visiting Nepali delegation Bikash R. Dhakwa on 29 October in Colombo.

Director Dhakwa was addressing the EDB top officials’ team led by EDB Chairman and CEO Bandula Egodage during his delegation’s visit to EDB on 29 October. The visiting 12 member business delegation from Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal was the largest ever Nepali business delegation to come to Sri Lanka in recent times. This was also the first ever such handicraft focused delegation to visit Sri Lanka from Nepal, with leading Nepali handicraft, gold, silver and metal crafts and other artisan entrepreneurs in it.

Several of the visiting businesses are also well-linked to the craft markets of India and Thailand. Notable among the Nepali reps were international jewellery designer Suman Dhakwa (Proprietor, Valhalla Enterprises) as well as Sanam Shakya (Executive Member, Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal and sole craft supplier to Dalai Lama).
Also present at the session EDB were EDB DG Sujatha Weerakoone, EDB ED Dr. Yousuf Maraikkar, EDB Director – Market Development Jeevani Siriwardena and other top officials.

“We warmly welcome one of the largest business teams from Nepal. Today’s meeting with your delegation could be considered as a preparatory meeting of our craft sector for Kathmandu SAARC sideline meeting as well,” said Egodage, addressing Director Dhakwa and the delegation, and added: “Relations between Sri Lanka and Nepal have been historic. The arrival of such a large team strengthens these on-going relations further and helps increase trade.”

As for bilateral trade, both countries remain promising virgin markets to each other. In 2013, Sri Lanka’s exports to Nepal stood at $ 5.07 million, a sudden 296% jump from 2012’s $ 1.2 million. Handicraft and jewellery exports to Nepal totalled $ 0.42 million in 2013. Sri Lanka’s top exports to Nepal in 2013 were printed books, newspapers and other printing products, pepper, fowls, electrical apparatus/switches, rubber tyres, and industrial machines.

Director Dhakwa responding said: “Sri Lanka and Nepal relations have been historic and now is the time to go to the next step-towards stronger bilateral trade. Both Nepali handicrafts and jewellery sector representatives are here. Unlike in Sri Lanka, jewellery, gold, silver and precious stone crafts are included as part of ‘handicrafts’ in Nepal. We have 22 different kinds of key crafts being exported to 60 countries. The main reason we are coming to Sri Lanka is that we believe that you have very good processing technology of precious and semi-precious stones here – that is stone cutting-as well as a strong manufacturing sector in them.

“Also we need your natural precious stones to be used in our jewelleries. Our jewellery producers have very good linkages with Thailand and India and these two markets are continuously fed by our artisans. Sri Lankan precious stones will help us to meet the increasing demand for high quality precious stones embedded crafts in these two markets. For Sri Lankan gem, silver and handicraft exporters, there are huge prospects in the $ 420 million Nepali gold, silver, jewellery and handicraft making industry which already employs two million workers. “These prospects are within Nepal and through Nepal to countries such as India and Thailand. Apart from SAARC meet, we also invite a Sri Lankan handicraft, silver and gold crafters team to the Nepali Handicraft Trade Fair held 20-24 November at the Bhrikuti Mandap Exhibition Hall in Kathmandu. We also suggest that it is time to renew direct air-links between Kathmandua and Colombo.”
“We are looking forward to meet you during SAARC meet,” said EDB’s Egodage, and added: “We are also planning to send a business delegation to Nepal in January.”
The previous Nepali delegation of this magnitude to visit Colombo was the business delegation organised by the Economic Forum of Nepal, way back in December 2003.