In a bid to attract investors, Nepal has yet again initiated to hold Investment Summit on March 29 and 30, 2019. The two-day conference is an attempt to invite potential foreign investors to bid for FDI commitments. The summit shall inform the attendees about suitable investment climate and related diplomatic missions of Nepal.
Themed ‘A Promising Investment Destination’, NIS 2019 has six broad areas of interests: energy, tourism, industry, transport, information and communication technology, and agriculture. A steering committee has been constituted led by the Minister for Finance and IBN’s Vice-chair Yubaraj Khatiwada. The committee also comprises representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies; Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Confederation of Nepalese Industries; Nepal Chamber of Commerce; and Investment Board Nepal as its members. The summit will be an ideal platform to correlate investors’ interests with Nepal’s agendas in proposed sectors. NIS 2019 aspires for economic transformation of Nepal in 10 years’ time through digitalization, infrastructure development, and value chain.
The government of Nepal hosted its first investment summit in 2017, and had secured investment pledges worth US$ 13.74 billion which has not yet materialized. Due to volatile political condition and hostile foreign policies, the bidders held back from their investment. Emerging issues of corruption, impunity, political chaos, and red tapes could isolate Nepal from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), or even put the proposed aid in jeopardy. NIS is also a soft approach of the government to portray independency of Nepal regardless of foreign influence in its domestic affairs. Acts and policies are being revised targeting the summit, to assure a favorable investment atmosphere, and for acquiring trust and confidence of the investors. Citizens now can only hope that these policies and acts are revised without compromising national security and public rights. The government is now in its best effort to materialize its ambition into achievements, and is considering to reshuffle its cabinet right ahead of NIS.
Early January, the government organized pre-summit meeting to brief about NIS 2019. The meeting was attended by Nepal-based foreign missions and donor agencies to MoFA. The meeting turned out to be fruitful as it pointed out needed policy reforms to create investment friendly environment. The steering committee of NIS has showcased a well-researched project areas, and promised to provide swift networking platform. The intervention of foreign investment will facilitate Public-Private Partnership model, aiming for mutual benefit in all 7 provinces of Nepal equally.
Nepal has been trying to attract FDI since its economic liberalization and open economic policy. The US – one of the major source of FDI in Nepal, has indicated NIS 2019 to be premature and risky, denoting to the restrained laws and policies regarding foreign investment. On the other hand, Embassy of Nepal in China PR recently organized a pre-summit conference on NIS 2019 in Beijing. The conference was attended by 120 representatives from Chinese business enterprises, government agencies, universities, and media. China-headquartered Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has further assured the participation of senior level representation in the summit.
The summit calls for a viable platform to initialize Nepal’s diplomatic missions through project sharing and will enhance Nepal’s relation with foreign institutes in terms of economic diplomacy and cultural exchange. If the pledged amount is materialized this time, Nepal will be closer to achieving its dream of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’, creating enormous job opportunities for locals and needed developmental projects for provincial and local governments.
remaining issue now is that, is Nepal itself credible to host an event of this
caliber. With just 1 month remaining, Nepal has still left to amend foreign
policies and build a resourceful team. The government should put serious effort
to substantiate FDI commitments to real investments. The government’s claim of
investment friendly Nepal should match with the reality on the ground.
 Nepal Investment Summit Secretariat. 2019. https://investmentsummitnepal.com/about-event/
 Office of Investment Board. Government of Nepal. 2019. http://ibn.gov.np/nepal-investment-summit-on-march-29-30
 “Investment Summit on March 2019”. Republica. December 28, 2018. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/investment-summit-in-march-2019/
 Bikash Thapa. “Why there is no foreign investment in Nepal.” Nepali Times. February 2019. https://www.nepalitimes.com/from-the-nepali-press/why-there-is-no-foreign-investment-in-nepal/
 Anil Giri. “Cabinet reshuffle on cards ahead of the Investment Summit.” The Kathmandu Post. February 21, 2019. http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-02-21/cabinet-reshuffle-on-cards-ahead-of-the-investment-summit.html
 “US says Nepal Investment Summit is premature.” Republica. February 2, 2019. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/us-says-nepal-investment-summit-is-premature/
 “Press Release on Pre-Summit Conference on Nepal Investment Summit 2019.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Government of Nepal. February 26, 2019. https://mofa.gov.np/press-release-on-pre-summit-conference-on-nepal-investment-summit-2019/
 “High-level representative of AIIB to attend Nepal Investment Summit.” Share Sansar. February 26, 2019. https://www.sharesansar.com/newsdetail/high-level-representative-of-aiib-to-attend-nepal-investment-summit
Author: Kunja Rai
Photo: Sushma Bhatta