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Nepal pitches for Indian investment

india Updated: Nov 07, 2006 18:41 IST
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Describing India as a "reliable partner in development", Nepal on Tuesday underlined its new phase of post-democracy stability and invited Indian businessmen to invest in diverse sectors, especially in the emerging hydropower industry.

"India is a reliable partner in Nepal's development. We welcome Indian investment in all sectors, specially in hydropower generation," Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister KP Sharma Oli told business leaders and diplomats at a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"Proper utilisation of water resources can change the economic landscape of the two countries. It could help in achieving energy security for the two countries," he stressed.

"After decades of wasted opportunities, we now see a new hope in the power sector," India's Ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherjee said while underlining the huge untapped potential of bilateral cooperation in the power sector.

During delegation-level discussions between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Oli, the two countries decided to schedule technical-level talks soon on the Pancheshwar dam on the Mahakali-Sharda river and discuss other projects such as the Nomure storage-cum-hydropower project on the Rapti river.

The two neighbours also discussed the export of power from Nepal to India through cross-border high voltage transmission corridors.

Underscoring the new mood of optimism after the return of democracy in the Himalayan country early this year, Oli said the situation had now become favourable for trade and investment after a decade of conflict.

He also expressed hope that the ongoing negotiations between the Nepali government and the Maoist rebels would lead to the end of violence and restore "permanent peace" in his country.

"The policies and intentions of the present Nepali government are positive. We want to encourage foreign direct investment," the minister said.

"Private sector will play a key role in the socio-economic transformation of the country," Oli, who belongs to the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), added.

Describing Nepal as a "friend of India", Mukherjee spoke about India's enduring commitment to the development of Nepal and said it was hopeful of forging a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with its neighbour soon.

"There is a revolution of expectations in Nepal in both political and economic areas," Mukherjee said as he outlined robust and sustained growth of bilateral trade between the two countries. Bilateral trade reached $2 billion last year.

He also spoke about the renewal of the bilateral trade treaty in March next year and said New Delhi was considering the scrapping of non-trade and para-trade barriers on Nepalese exports to India.

New Delhi has agreed to consider waiving the four percent customs duty on Nepalese exports to India on a priority basis.

India announced a massive economic package of nearly $200 million during the visit of Nepal's Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in New Delhi in June this year.

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