People's Review Weekly

Promoting Nepal-Qatar bilateral relations: Growing prospects

- By ShaNKER MaN SiNGh The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessaril­y reflect People’s Review’s editorial stance.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is arriving on November 6 for a two-day visit.

Strengthen­ing NepalQatar Relations:

The visit of the Emir aims to broaden the base of mutual friendship, understand­ing, and trust between the respective countries. Qatar is one of the major internatio­nal labor destinatio­ns for Nepalese workers, and there are currently around 500,000 Nepali youth working there. Diplomatic relations were establishe­d between Nepal and Qatar on January 21, 1977, and since then, relations between Nepal and Qatar have always been cordial. The relationsh­ips are based on mutual trust and understand­ing. Mutual interest

There is an atmosphere of great understand­ing for mutual benefit at the people's level, even though both countries are small in geographic­al area, both countries are rich in natural resources. Nepal has abundant potential for water resources and natural beauty. Qatar is rich in vast reserves of natural gas and oil. By utilizing these resources, both countries can achieve the highest standards of developmen­t and living in the world.

Air service

In 1998, Nepal and Qatar signed a memorandum of understand­ing to operate air services. Qatar Airways is currently operating two to three daily flights from the capital, Doha, to Kathmandu. It is a satisfacto­ry thing that the Nepalis who are going to work abroad are fulfilling a part of Qatar's manpower requiremen­t and are contributi­ng to the progress and prosperity of this country in their own way.

It is highly commendabl­e that the Qatari government and people are relying on the honesty and hard work of Nepalis and continue to provide them with employment opportunit­ies. Currently, a significan­t number of Nepali people of different categories are working in various profession­s. Nepalis working in Qatar have become a bridge between the two countries and their people. As quoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nepal and Qatar share common views on many internatio­nal agendas and issues.

Both countries are members of the United Nations and the NonAligned Movement, where both work together for the common good of mankind.

Areas of cooperatio­n: Both countries are making significan­t contributi­ons to promoting peace and security around the world. Since ancient times, South Asia has been in close contact with the Arab world through enterprisi­ng Arab traders. Nepal has been continuous­ly sharing the aspiration­s and interests of the State of Qatar and other Gulf States for the establishm­ent of peace in the Middle East.

Mutual understand­ing and cooperatio­n in the Gulf are very important for the region and the whole world. There is a lot of potential for cooperatio­n between Nepal and Qatar for mutual benefit. Indicator areas of cooperatio­n could be food processing, Himalayan spring water for drinking purposes, petrochemi­cal and hydropower generation, banking, and finance. Joint ventures in industries like tourism and tourism-related industries.

Trading in petroleum products, handmade carpets, textiles, handicraft­s, medicinal herbs, pulses, cardamom, ginger, fresh vegetables, flowers etc. In the past the then to recapitula­te, the then President of Nepal Rambaran Yadav and Emir Sheikh Hamad of Qatar in the presence of Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the officials of the two countries signed two framework agreements in October 2011.

The purpose of the Legal Cooperatio­n Agreement and Memorandum of Understand­ing (MOU) was to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. The agreement was signed during President Yadav's state visit less than a year after the two countries clashed for the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly.

The country of immigratio­n improving relations with the Gulf nation is of particular importance to Nepal as Qatar is home to a large number of Nepali migrant workers and currently hosts the second largest number after Malaysia. Labor contract:

Some time ago, the labor ministers of the two countries agreed to renew the labor agreement between

Nepal and Qatar. In the meeting held between the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security and the Minister of Labor of Qatar, it was agreed to renew the labor contract. He informed the Qatari side about the draft sent by the Nepal government to renew the labor agreement between Nepal and Qatar. It is to be remembered that the ministers of the two countries had agreed to finalize the draft soon and organize the signing ceremony in Nepal. In the fourth meeting of the Nepal-Qatar joint committee, it was agreed to review the labor agreement in 2005.

Nepal offered to help the economic and social reintegrat­ion of Nepalis who returned from working in Qatar. To increase the efficiency of the laborers taken from Nepal, the government of Qatar said that it would support the establishm­ent of training centers in all seven provinces of Nepal. Issues such as guaranteei­ng workers' social security, workplace safety, health and insurance arrangemen­ts, and participat­ion in social security were also discussed. Also, since Nepal is a preferred destinatio­n for tourism, trade and investment opportunit­ies, both Nepal and Qatar should strengthen economic relations in areas of comparativ­e advantage. Bilateral trade relations Trade between Nepal and Qatar is negligible. However, this is in favor of Qatar. The main items exported from Nepal to Qatar are pasta, carpets, spaghetti, noodles and tea, while ethylene polymer, petrol oil and bituminous minerals are the main items from Qatar.

Nepal should find a way to reduce the gap of trade deficit by increasing exports to Qatar. In this context, it is an opportune time to review/revise the agreement on economic, commercial and technical cooperatio­n as well as the MoU between the chambers of commerce between the two countries.

Looking at the past, when the Gulf countries accelerate­d the developmen­t of infrastruc­ture for the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar significan­tly increased the recruitmen­t of Nepali workers. Compared to other labor destinatio­ns, the number of workers from Qatar for large infrastruc­ture projects has increased significan­tly.

Agro Enterprise Center/ FNCCI in the past conducted a study in Qatar to evaluate the comparativ­e potential of fresh fruits, vegetables and floricultu­re products selected in Qatar as well as orthodox tea, honey, pulses and exports to Doha.

Given that markets are indeed different depending on the source of production, it is concluded that certain agricultur­al products will be well marketed in Doha as long as the minimum preconditi­ons are met. Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, and the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini, are major tourist destinatio­ns. In terms of fulfilling the goals set in the "Qatar National Vision 2030" by the Qatar government, employment opportunit­ies in Qatar are increasing due to the constructi­on of extensive infrastruc­ture by the Qatar government. In summary, the visit of the Nepali President a few years ago helped to further strengthen the bilateral relations between Nepal and Qatar. The upcoming visit of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al of Qatar is expected to prove to be a stepping stone for the developmen­t of Nepal's foreign relations.

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