KATHMANDU, Jan 27: Experts have argued that Nepal should explore ways to benefit from the emerging economies of India and China rather than staying perennially obsessed with its 'landlockedness'.
Speaking at the “Night of the Ideas” organized jointly by the Embassy of France, Nepal Economic Forum (NEF) and the Alliance Française de Katmandou (AFK) on Thursday, Nepal should strive to transform itself into 'landlinked' country through enhancement of connectivity and other policy measures to bring about economic development in the country.
The “Night of the Ideas” is a worldwide debate event held for the first time in Nepal. The subject of the debate was set as “Economic Development of Landlocked Countries” under this year's theme-- “A Common World”-- of the “Night of the Ideas”.
Addressing the talk program, President of Global Development Network (GDN) Pierre Jacquet argued that being landlocked is not being doomed. “What matters is access to markets and the size of these markets. “Rather than focusing on being landlocked, we must focus on access to markets and the size of markets a country has access to,” he said.
Member of National Planning Commission Swarnim Wagle emphasized the need to focus on modern tradable services which include not only tourism sector but also manufacturing of high value-low volume goods in order to overcome the challenge landlocked poses to our development. “Due to the rise of Asia, rich and prosperous markets are not far away; we must take advantage of this,” he said, while questioning if the problem of Nepal is being landlocked or 'policy locked'.
Also, speaking in the talk program moderated by author and Chairperson of Nepal Economic Forum Sujeev Shakya, UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal Valérie Julliand said landlocked countries tend be trapped in a vicious circle; transportation costs are high, economic progress is slow and inequality is high. “Such nations should capitalize on their assets and uniqueness and leverage their relationships with neighbors to unleash their potential,” he said.
Likewise, fellow at New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhary stressed on the importance of Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal (BBIN) connectivity projects stating how such projects are starting to make positive progress in transforming landlocked areas into land-linked areas.