It’s my great pleasure to jointly launch the USAID Trade and Competitiveness Activity with the Government of Nepal.
This year, the United States and Nepal celebrate 75 years of friendship and development partnership. The start of this new activity, USAID Trade and Competitiveness, is the latest example of this strong partnership between the Governments of Nepal and the United States, and our joint commitment to develop a stronger, more inclusive economy in Nepal.
This also signals USAID’s growing commitment to partner with Nepal’s private sector around shared goals between business and development efforts. In fact, including USAID, combined US Government development assistance for the coming five years will reach nearly $1.4 billion, all of that intended to improve the lives and livelihoods of Nepali people. At the core of this commitment and one of the key priorities of the US Embassy is to support Nepal, as it becomes a stronger and more reliable economic partner, by facilitating economic growth and strengthening trade ties.
We all recognize that trade serves as a key driver for economic growth, and that only through our combined partnerships will Nepal fully harness its potential for global and regional trade. We will listen to the needs of the private sector, as well as the communities they serve, and use that feedback to guide our work alongside business and the government to improve competitiveness of Nepali enterprises, stimulate entrepreneurship, and encourage business development.
At the same time, we also recognize that Nepal faces enormous and complex development challenges, including social exclusion, inadequate basic service delivery, and insufficient economic opportunity and sources of growth. Businesses operate at high risk and at high cost, making it a challenge to attract foreign and domestic investment in Nepal. The COVID-19 pandemic, and now the global economic impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine, have made the existing development challenges even more pronounced.
To respond to these challenges, we will need to harness the collective power of the Government of Nepal, the private sector, and development partners, to employ more people, attract investment, and build global business linkages.
Our joint efforts will make financial and business development services available and accessible to businesses so they can grow and create jobs. We will also expand access to technologies that increase productivity, and meet changing market demands and requirements in the agriculture, tourism, and digital services sectors, which all have significant growth potential.
In addition to competitiveness and private sector-driven growth, we want to support Nepal to incentivize innovation, reward competition, and facilitate new market entrants.
In addition to competitiveness and private sector-driven growth, we want to support Nepal to incentivize innovation, reward competition, and facilitate new market entrants. Leveraging our strong partnership with the Government of Nepal and the private sector will increase access to global markets and attract additional investment that creates new jobs and opens the door to important economic and social opportunities for women, youth, and marginalized groups. It will also support the country by decreasing dependence on imports and increasing the goods and services generated in this country.
We believe that, together with the Nepali government, and the Nepali people, including the private sector, USAID can partner with Nepali firms to be more productive, competitive, and connected to the global economy. We believe that Nepali women, youth, and those from underrepresented communities can put their energy and ideas into motion to transform the economy—and increase their own incomes, and improve their lives, and the lives of their families and their communities, in the process.
We look forward to the latest step in our development partnership with Nepal, and are excited to see Nepal’s economic potential fully realized.
Sepideh Keyvanshad is the Mission Director of USAID/Nepal. The above article is part of the speech Keyvanshad delivered on launch of USAID’s Trade and Competitiveness Activity in Nepal on Tuesday.