Prospects of China-Nepal business to business relations
Chandra Prasad Dhakal
Prospects of China-Nepal business to business relations

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Chandra Prasad Dhakal, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is President of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Chairman of IME Group Pvt Ltd. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

At the invitation of Premier of the State Council Li Qiang, Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is paying an official visit to China from September 23 to 30.

This visit underscores the significance of China-Nepal collaboration, highlighting their shared commitment to fostering bilateral ties and advancing mutual interests across a wide spectrum of sectors, including trade, energy, agriculture, information and communications technology, tourism, mining and minerals, health and education, manufacturing and financial sectors, and regional connectivity, among others.

China and Nepal, although geographically separated by the Himalayas, share deep-rooted cultural and trade ties. Nepal's strategic location as a bridge between China and South Asia offers vast opportunities for both countries. This article explores collaboration between the two at the government and private sector levels, which aim to reshape economic landscapes for mutual growth and long-term prosperity.

Trade and investment opportunities

Trade is the heartbeat of our economies. China's global economic stature opens unparalleled doors for Nepal. Our private sector can embrace these opportunities by venturing into new markets in China. Facilitating business interactions, organizing trade exhibitions, and promoting bilateral trade missions are essential steps. Streamlining trade barriers and improving the business environment will revitalize bilateral trade.

Nepal offers a promising investment landscape, with significant potential for Chinese businesses. Joint ventures, direct investments, and technology transfers can breathe new life into our economy.

Nepal enjoys duty-free access to China and India, as well as developed economies like the EU, U.S., Canada, and Australia. This favorable trade environment encourages Chinese investors to manufacture goods in Nepal and export to the global market. China already stands as Nepal's second-largest trading partner, accounting for a significant portion of its imports. Chinese investments constitute over 35 percent of the total approved foreign direct investments in Nepal.

City view of Karthmandu, Nepal. /CFP
City view of Karthmandu, Nepal. /CFP

City view of Karthmandu, Nepal. /CFP

Tourism: Showcasing Nepal's treasures

Nepal's pristine landscapes, rich culture, and adventure offerings are hidden gems for Chinese tourists. Collaboration with Chinese travel agencies and investors can fuel tourism growth. The private sector can lead by creating joint ventures for hotels, tourist destinations, and tailored travel packages for Chinese visitors.

Nepal offers adventure activities like trekking, mountaineering, rafting, and safaris, all yet to be fully explored by Chinese tourists. The private sector can collaborate to develop hospitality infrastructure, including hotels, resorts, cable cars, and lodges, to accommodate the rising number of Chinese tourists.

Nepal's Lumbini, the sacred birthplace of Buddha, attracts devotees worldwide. Extending invitations to Chinese Buddhist pilgrims and corresponding investments can enhance services for a religious and spiritual clientele.

Infrastructure development: Enhancing connectivity

Efficient infrastructure is vital for economic growth. China's expertise in building roads, railways, hydroelectric dams, airports, and large-scale projects is globally recognized. Collaborative efforts between private sector entities from Nepal and China can expedite infrastructure development. These projects not only enhance connectivity but also facilitate trade and economic advancement.

Recent initiatives, like China's construction of airports in Pokhara, illustrate progress in infrastructure development. Leveraging these airports for direct international flights can be mutually beneficial. This strategic investment bridges Nepal's infrastructure gap and improves connectivity with the South Asian market.

China's active role in Nepal's infrastructure development strengthens bilateral relations and unlocks economic potential. Collaborating on infrastructure projects can strengthen ties and propel regional economic growth.

Technical human resource development and education

The recent census showed that Nepal has a 62 percent working age population. Having such a large labor pool is considered a demographic window of opportunity. This demographic dividend offers substantial growth opportunities. However, the lack of skilled education and vocational training programs often forces young Nepalis to seek work abroad. Traditional academic systems, while valuable, fall short in providing practical skills demanded by the job market.

To harness our demographic dividend, Nepal should seek Chinese private sector investment or government support to establish vocational education institutes. Collaborative efforts between educational institutions from both nations can facilitate knowledge transfer and skill development.

Collaboration can include student exchange programs, vocational training partnerships, and curriculum enhancements. This ensures our workforce is prepared to meet evolving demands in both China and Nepal, empowering them to seize opportunities.

Hydropower and agriculture modernization

Nepal's abundant water resources can meet energy needs and contribute to clean energy production. Collaborative efforts in the hydropower sector, including technology transfers, investments, and joint ventures, can advance energy infrastructure. This benefits Nepal and aligns with China's hydropower expertise.

The popularity of Chinese electric vehicles (EV) in Nepal highlights the need for expanded hydropower capacity to support EV charging infrastructure. This offers a significant opportunity for Chinese private sector investment in Nepal's hydropower development. Nepal has also made strides in energy cooperation with India and Bangladesh so that more countries can benefit from Nepal's clean energy. Chinese collaboration in energy projects can bolster these initiatives.

Similarly, agriculture is vital to Nepal's economy. Modernization is essential, and China's agricultural technology can be practical and effective. Collaborative initiatives in knowledge sharing, technology transfer, and agribusiness investments can enhance both nations' agricultural sectors and promote sustainable development.

In conclusion, China-Nepal collaboration holds immense potential for mutual growth. Collaboration in trade, tourism, infrastructure, education, energy, and agriculture can shape a brighter future for both countries. Together, they can unlock opportunities, strengthen ties, and contribute to regional prosperity.

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