An interaction program, E-commerce in WTO: Agenda for Nepal, was recently held in Kathmandu, where the various issues related to e-commerce with respect to Nepal were discussed in depth. It was organized by The South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS).
Chandra Kumar Ghimire, secretary at MoICS informed that the ministry has prepared a roadmap regarding e-commerce and submitted it to the cabinet. He said that it was necessary for Nepal to be prepared for dealing with issues related to e-commerce as at the multilateral platform such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), other developing countries are pushing for formal negotiations related to issues of e-commerce.
Likewise, Posh Raj Pandey, executive chairman of SAWTEE, pointed out that the digital economy amounted to 6.5% of the global output. He informed about the digital divide between the developed and developing countries and how the developing countries hadn’t been able to compete to take the benefits of e-commerce. He also talked about the various aspects on which Nepal could prepare for e-commerce including legal and regulatory, infrastructure, human resources, and finance.
Toya Narayan Gyawali, joint secretary at MoICS, stressed on the need of gap analysis to prepare for domestic market and multilateral negotiations. According to him, the analysis is to be done in terms of trade logistics and infrastructure, legal framework, financial access and payment solutions.
In addition, women entrepreneurs brought the issue of limited financial literacy among the female entrepreneurs to the table. Due to problems with the payment system, the micro, small, and medium businesses promoting their products via social media platforms were having issues.
Keshav Acharya, a senior economist present during the program stressed the need for Nepal to adopt reforms, logistical or regulatory, to facilitate e-commerce; he also discussed issues regarding international payments settlement for Nepal.
Furthermore, Binod Dahal, chairperson of ICT Development Committee at Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, remarked that the recent tax hikes on the internet in the fiscal budget 2018-19 is likely to affect the promotion of e-commerce in a negative way.