Saturday, 6 March, 2021
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OPINION

Promoting Nepal-Israel Economic Cooperation



Shanker Man Singh

 

Nepal-Israel bilateral relation has gone from strength to strength since the two nations established their diplomatic ties in 1960. The areas of their bilateral cooperation have been further expanded. Israel has been supporting Nepal in various fields ranging from providing jobs to Nepali youths in its domestic labour market to diversifying Nepal’s agro sector. Recently, the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding to establish Centres for Agricultural Excellence in all seven states of Nepal. Similarly, an agreement was signed to provide employment to Nepali caregivers in the field of nursing, including hospitals, nursing homes, old age homes, and daycare centres in Israel. It is expected that Nepali migrant workers will receive the same facilities and treatment in Israel as Israeli citizens. Under the MoU, the Israeli labour market is open to Nepali youths. Nepali workers will have access to care, agriculture, hotels and restaurants, construction and employment opportunities in other areas in Israel.

Productivity enhancement
In this context, productivity enhancement will be promoted by making the best use of limited labour, capital, technology and resources by providing services related to the efficient management of industrial establishments, project evaluation, human resources, capital formation, organisational development as well as training management, automated business process, technology development and business equivalence determination in Nepal.
It is essential to establish the centres for industrial excellence in line with the concept of public-private partnership. Although the government has allocated budget for setting up such centres in the past, the programme could not come to fruition. In the recently concluded MoU, the Israeli labour market has been opened for Nepali youths. They will have access to care, agriculture, hotels and restaurants, construction, and employment opportunities in other areas in Israel. However, the Nepali embassy in Tel Aviv has stated that the recruitment of workers will start only after signing the 'implementation protocol' for each sector.
Nepal is the first sovereign state in the region to establish relations with Israel when India, China, and other Asian countries have no relations with Israel. So we can have a good relationship with Israel. The relationship that took place during the tenure of BP Koirala as the Prime Minister is getting stronger these days. Nepal-Israel diplomatic relation was established on June 1, 1960. A year later, in March, Israel established an embassy in Kathmandu. Nepal opened the Consulate General's office in Israel in 1993 and the Embassy in 2007. Initially, Nepal's ambassador to Egypt was in charge of relations with Israel.
Nepal and Israel have long been bilateral partners in the "G2G" development cooperation initiatives, which include the areas of human capacity building, specialised services, technical know-how, and business ventures. Nepal is receiving technical assistance from Israel for agricultural development. Both nations have agreed to contribute to the development of agriculture with the agricultural sectors in both countries.
Israel has been assisting Nepal in the areas of infrastructure development such as agriculture, cooperatives, medicine, and education. Nepal has seen growth of cooperative, which is known as “Kibbutz" in Israel. So both the nations can exchange their views on promoting the cooperative-led economy. Nepal-Israel relations should be further strengthened through the exchange of art, culture, and other development activities between the two nations. Israeli volunteers have been a valuable support to Nepal as they provide services in areas such as education and health, where Nepal lags far behind. Nepal should learn from the radical changes Israel has made in agricultural technology by making maximum use of modern technology.
It is expected that the number of Israeli tourists visiting Nepal will increase. As long as we share a very friendly relationship with each other, we need to increase economic ties, which are in the interest of both countries.
Major exports to Israel include manufactured tobacco, tobacco, partial or complete particle/stripped, M&B cotton shirts, scrap twine, lanyards, etc. The goods imported from Israel include non-alcoholic soft drinks, citrus fruits, prepared or preserved, careless or not, essential oils, refined glass, etc. are prominent. The current state of trade between the two countries shows that trade is largely in Israel's favour.
Israeli business community is keen to invest in Nepal's growing telecommunications sector. They are particularly focused on the coverage of cellular mobile areas where coverage is still low. This could be the most important area of cooperation between the two countries. There is also a possibility of delivering materials for hydropower projects from Israel. It is estimated that about 8,000 Israeli tourists, mostly students and adventure seekers visit Nepal each year. The youth-oriented tourism promotion programme in Israel helps to attract young tourists from Israel to Nepal. As Israelis have experience and expertise in the field of floriculture development, we can learn a lot from the work of the Israeli government.

Human resources
Israel is providing substantial assistance to Nepal in the development of efficient human resources. This helped establish a national construction company in Nepal and a parachute training facility for the Nepal Army. Israel has been providing short-term scholarships to Nepal, especially in the fields of agriculture, education, rural development, water resources, tourism, etc. In addition, Israeli experts provided assistance in much agricultural management, artificial insemination, irrigation, early childhood education, labour and cooperative biotechnology and farm machinery training and workshops.

(The author is the former CEO at NEPSE and SEZ.) 

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