Saraswati Maharjan, Chief Executive Officer of Nepal German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NGCCI), has been undertaking the responsibility of overall management of the first bi-national chamber for the last 15 years, working for promotion and development of trade, industry and investment between Nepal and Germany.
Master’s degree in Business Studies from Tribhuvan University, her passion is to explore International Business and to work for the country. She believes that strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. Nepal Live Today caught up with Maharjan to learn more about her role, role of NGCCI and status of Nepal-Germany trade, and future prospects. Excerpts:
What is NGCCI? Why is this organization important?
Nepal-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NGCCI) is a non-governmental organization with the legal status of a nonprofit making and autonomous entity. The Chamber is a bi-lateral organization of Nepali businessmen and industrialists having business relations with Germany, German business community doing business with Nepal and other European countries.
An organization like NGCCI is very important for fostering bilateral economic activities between Nepal and Germany. NGCCI has been playing a vital role as a focal point for the companies doing business in Germany/Europe and also for the German business community who wants to explore and do business in Nepal. NGCCI has been actively working for the promotion and development of trade, industry, investments, and tourism between Nepal and Germany for more than three decades.
The stated mission of NGCCI is to ‘help members to enhance the business through networking and advocacy with Nepali and German business communities and authorities’. What are the programs implemented to achieve this mission?
NGCCI has been bridging businesses between Nepal and Germany and promoting German investment in Nepal. It has been a common platform for business interaction among Nepali and German businesses, organizing events on regular basis facilitating delegations from Germany to Nepal and also organizing delegations from Nepal to Germany and other events. The welcome and honor program NGCCI organized with its partners for 30 Member Cologne Business Delegates led by Ernst Vleer, President of Business Club 99 and official representative of City of Cologne, was highlighted in Germany and Nepal. It was so successful that the team joined the next delegation to Nepal as participants to German Nepal Business Forum to explore possible business ventures in Nepal.
NGCCI had successfully organized a High-Level Business Delegation in major cities of Germany and is planning for such delegations and events in the near future. Some of our major programs include providing a platform for business networking, organizing B2B meetings, creating bilateral business forums, organizing high-level delegations to and from Germany, facilitating research, and advocating policy issues with authorities.
The stated objective of your organization is also to implement German business practices in Nepal. What good practices can our private sector learn from German business practices?
German business practices are marked by organization, planning and perfectionism. Business relations are very formal, and they reflect the German values of order, privacy and punctuality. I think this is something Nepal can replicate.
What is the current export and import trend between Germany and Nepal?
Germany stands among the very important trade partners of Nepal. Nepali products such as carpets, woolen products, handicrafts, felt products, tea, herbs, handmade paper find a good market in Germany.
Likewise, Nepal imports industrial raw materials, chemicals, machinery equipment and parts, electro-medical instruments and appliances, electric and electronic goods, vehicles among others from Germany.
Germany was the surplus trade contributor to Nepali economy from the very beginning but from the year 2012 it continued to be the deficit trade partner with intensive growth in the imports from Germany.
The total export of Nepal to Germany in 2019 was NRs 3.1billion rupees, and import value was 7.5 billion. Due to the pandemic, the export decreased to 2.8 billion in 2020 and 1.5 billion in 2021. While the imports from Germany to Nepal was 4.8 billion in 2020 and it reached 2.9 billion with a trade deficit of 1.3 billion in 2021.
It is often said that Nepal could attract more tourists from Germany if genuine branding and reliable information could be disseminated among the German people. Has NGCCI done anything toward this end?
To promote Nepal and Nepali tourism in Germany, NGCCI has been coordinating the country’s participation in Europe’s largest public exhibition, Caravan, Motors and Tourism Fair CMT at Stuttgart, Germany since 1994. In 1995, Nepal, at the invitation of the state of Baden Wuttertemberg and Messe Stuttgart, participated as the partner country. Since then, Nepal has been taking part in the fair regularly.
Besides the regular participation, NGCCI in cooperation with its cooperation partners such as NTB, GIZ, SNV had also organized successful Nepal Tourism conferences on different occasions like Nepal Tourism Year 2011, launching SNV Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) in 2012, 2013, 2016 and other regular conferences during CMT Fair.
Nepal should focus on products that have high-value to weight targeting to reduce the transportation costs meaningfully.
Nepal’s participation in CMT 2020 was even more highlighted with a modified new stall with stupa style and the addition of a short cultural dance performance and Nepal Tourism video presentation.
NGCCI has been professionally organizing the event making 25 years of history of continuous promotion of Nepali tourism in the German market.
The current pandemic has turned the 2021 and 2022 CMT into digital platforms. But we are hopeful for the upcoming CMT 2023.
Besides, NGCCI had organized tourism conferences and events in major cities of Germany during the Tourism Delegation and high-level Business Delegation to Germany presenting about Nepal and Nepalese Tourism among other potential sectors.
If we go by the trade volume between the two countries, Nepal is in a deficit. What can be done to enhance our export performance?
I think Nepal should focus on products that have high-value to weight targeting to reduce the transportation costs meaningfully. Nepal should adopt specific strategies such as building trade and manufacturing-focused infrastructure, proper coordination with government, trade promotion authorities and concerned stakeholders, networking with support organizations and utilizing the international platforms in the German market. This would help promote and develop our export products.
What policy measures would you suggest to enhance bilateral business-to-business relations between the two countries?
Economic diplomacy should be promoted. Diplomatic missions should be mobilized to enhance business-to-business relations and the role of the Business Support Organization and Bi-lateral Chambers should be strengthened while at the same time integrating into it the national programs and policies by providing regular budgets for programs and events.