Despite 'challenges' US Inc. wants to invest in Nepal | world | Hindustan Times
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Despite 'challenges' US Inc. wants to invest in Nepal

world Updated: Jun 29, 2011 13:23 IST
Utpal Parashar

Despite a Maoist attack on GMR Group's hydro power project in Nepal last month, US companies based in India are positive about Nepal as an investment destination.

A delegation of the American Chamber of Commerce in India (ACCI) which is currently in Nepal to scout for investment avenues feels the attack on the Indian group was an isolated incident.

"The incident is unfortunate and doesn't send positive signals. But it's an isolated event and the government's response has been positive," said ACCI vice chairman Aniruddha Lahiri.

A mob of Maoists had burnt down three office buildings of GMR Energy, which is involved in developing the 900 MW Upper Karnali project. They had also beaten up workers at the site.

Although the Nepal cabinet had initially decided to deploy army personnel for security at the site, but due to pressure from Maoists, the dominant partner in the ruling coalition, the move was soon withdrawn.

US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H DeLisi admitted that the attack on GMR figured prominently during the delegations deliberations with Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal and the Maoist leadership.

"It was one of the fundamental questions we asked. Maoist leaders assured that they support investment and the GMR incident doesn't reflect the party's views," he said.

The trade mission, the first by a US business organization to Nepal in 13 years is being viewed as important since it shows renewed American interest in the Himalayan nation's economy.

Representatives from nine US companies from diverse sectors like Johnson & Johnson, GE Healthcare, Rockwell Automation, Monsanto and Bell Helicopter are in the delegation.

"There are serious challenges in Nepal, but there are possibilities of growth as well. Time has come to look beyond political and security issues and focus on rebuilding," DeLisi said.

The delegation felt that despite political and security issues, there's political will in Nepal to encourage investments.

Lahiri mentioned that while the initial focus would be on setting up units to cater to domestic consumption, Nepal has the potential to become a manufacturing hub for the entire region.