Economic and trade integration at the global and regional level has faced a strong headwind in recent years as the multilateral trade body—the World Trade Organization—is struggling to remain relevant in global trade architecture. Trade negotiations are stymied and appellate body, also the umpire of global trade rules, has been abandoned. Trump administration is continuously blocking the appointment of the judges in the appellate body and the new agendas of WTO reform are being pushed for providing the developed countries more space for maneuvering international trade rules for protection of their product and services.
Coronavirus pandemic has engulfed almost all countries around the world. The number of infected person and subsequent death has reached almost 6.7 million and 400 thousand respectively and the number is on rise with every passing day. It is still uncertain when this annihilation will stop and the people will return to their normal life.
The Constitution of Nepal-2015 has allocated the power of state among one federal government, seven provincial and 753 local governments, called rural and urban municipalities. Elections of these institutions were held in 2017 and all the office bearers are in place to run the business of the country. A big debate is going on among various sections of Nepali society in respect of the performance of these elected institutions in leading the country, alleviating the hardship of the people and taking the country to the path of prosperity. The issues grappling the public discourse are about rampant corruption, nepotism, favoritism, poor service delivery and high incidence of taxes, fee and charges sapping up the meager income of the people.
An international expert on transport and highway engineering, after making a visit to major road infrastructures in Nepal, commented that there is no single stretch of road in Nepal that is worth of calling a highway. According to this expert, there are certain parameters for any road to be called highway which is determined on the basis of width of the road, engineering design, geometry, quality of pavement, and provision on safety of pedestrians, passengers and vehicles.
The rising economic clout of China and India as the next door neighbors could be a blessing for socio-economic transformation of Nepal if Nepal can maintain a balanced foreign policy and constructive engagement. One of the major challenges faced in overall socio-economic development of the country is the modernization and expansion of physical infrastructures like energy, transport and border facilities which requires huge amount of financial resources and technologies suited to the fragile ecosystem and rugged terrain of the young mountains.
Global merchandize trade has experienced slowdown after 2011 which is mainly attributed to the economic recession of 2009-10 and the drop in the prices of fuels and minerals in the ensuing years. The situation got aggravated as the US government made a big shift in its trade policy after 2016, introducing the element of protectionism under the banner of ‘make America great again.’
The commonly accepted objective of foreign direct investment is to create conducive policy, regulatory and operational environment for attracting foreign owned companies or the multi-nationals to invest into the host country. The investment made in the productive sector of economy not only helps create job and employment opportunities through injection of foreign capital and technology but also helps in increasing productive capacity of the economy and improve balance of payment through increased export of goods and services.
Special economic zones are considered to be important vehicle for industrialization as development of such zones is intended to encourage domestic and foreign investment, create jobs, enhance production of goods and services and generate additional export. Neighboring countries India, China and Bangladesh have made substantial progress in increasing industrial production and export from the successful management and operation of special economic zones, also called SEZs.
The streets of Kathmandu witnessed yet another agitation in the never-ending series of protests staged by students unions against petroleum price hike by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC). It has become bit of a ritual: there is a price hike, followed by protests, stage-ins, general strikes and targeted vandalism of government vehicles.