Gangtok: With an aim to explore trade opportunities and economic development of India’s Northeast region and Nepal, the India-Nepal Economic Partnership Summit was organised in Gangtok, Sikkim on Friday. The PHDCCI under the aegis of its India-Nepal Centre State Development Council (SDC), in association with the Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi, kick-started the inaugural event on Friday.
The summit was attended by chief minister Prem Singh Golay along with Ambassador of Nepal to India Nilambar Acharya and host of other dignitaries from Nepal as well as from Sikkim.
The summit focused on sectors where India-Nepal cooperation through proactive and sublime ‘East Connection’ can achieve the desired goals for Nepal’s economic development in tourism, agriculture and food processing, healthcare and start-ups among services. The summit hosted key industry and government stakeholders from both the countries who were either already involved with the industrial development of Nepal or have genuine urge to be part of it.
CM Golay asserted on the age-old relationship between India and Nepal, particularly laying focus on the cultural exchange between Nepal and Sikkim with the language and tradition being the bridge over generations. “There are three path-breaking backdrops to which this summit is taking place. To begin with, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has consciously designed a far reaching policy of ‘neighbourhood first’. Under this policy India will embrace newer instruments to trigger growth and development in its neighbourhood. In the process, India will also share the dividends of being an emerging global economic power house with Nepal being our core neighbourhood country,” Golay said.
“Secondly, the central government has shifted from providing economic assistance and aid in traditional forms to do some major connectivity projects. India’s road, railway, waterways, and electricity transmission projects in Nepal are a few examples. The Central government’s Look East policy rephrased as Act East Policy could open a series of new vistas of cooperation between India and its eastern neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal and also with South East Asian countries,” Golay added.
Terming the private sector as the most crucial actor for all the three backdrops, Golay said, “The entire Eastern Himalayas are the cradles of mountain agriculture heritage where India’s private sector can collaborate with their counterparts in Nepal in the production and marketing of new value additions in traditional commodities, traditional medicines and newer farming commodities and floriculture. New technology, bigger scale, wider markets, deeper capital and new set of imaginative entrepreneurs are vital in this game of deeper partnership.”
“Electricity produced in Nepal, Bhutan and high hills of India can be pooled together in a central venue like the North East Region of India and transmit it to the power deficit neighbouring countries,” Golay further said.
Golay also highlighted on how a recent study by the Economic Research Institute of the ASEAN and East Asia in Jakarta, Indonesia identifies the projects, process of transmission, economics of inter-connection and gains for the partner countries like Bhutan, Nepal and India.
Golay pressed on out-of-the-box thinking and a sustained political will to pursue ventures. “The central government has already started thinking on this line and our own state government is willing to join such ventures if scientifically designed and floated. The private sector has to consciously come out of its traditional garb of making quick profit and think on long-term durability,” he said.
“We are keen to attract investment from our neighbouring countries and we will negotiate with the central government to bring amendments in the latest North East Industrial Scheme 2018 to extend some of these attractive fiscal incentives to the investors from the neighbouring countries,” he added.
The CM also highlighted on the huge pool of talented youth population in Sikkim who he felt could do wonders if given the right opportunity, stressing how quality and employability based investment in service sector is the need of the hour today.
Nepal Ambassador Nilambar Acharya on his first visit to Sikkim stressed on the possibility of economic contribution and development between the two countries. “India has been working on the lines of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ and that same is being encouraged with Nepal as well. We have very close ties between the two countries and will work on a specific development of connectivity between Kathmandu and Gangtok. We invite investors along the lines of’ Visit Nepal 2020’ wherein we have stressed on the motto of ‘Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepali’,” Acharya said.
“We have been through a difficult period of political disruption, yet we look towards India with economic agenda and development. Mixing traditional ties with modern relation, the economic cooperation will connect the two nations hence, India and Nepal must work together,” Acharya added.
Two sets of technical sessions on promoting industry in Nepal; revisiting trade policies, expanding sub-regional cooperation, border area development, MSMEs, destination Sikkim, SAARC, BBIN along with policy reforms and ease of doing business in Nepal, sectoral possibilities in Nepal, channelising investment (both ways) for industrial development in Nepal and Northeast with special reference to Sikkim were all part of the sessions.