By Madhuban Paudel
Ambassador of Nepal
Diplomatic relations between the then Kingdom Nepal and State of Kuwait were established on February 25, 1972. The Embassy of Nepal was officially opened on 21 March, 2010. Earlier, the Embassy in Riyadh was concurrently accredited to Kuwait.
Both countries are enjoying excellent bilateral relations which are based on goodwill, mutual understanding and co-operative attitude. Exchange of visits at various levels has strengthened bilateral relations between the two countries.
Nepal and Kuwait have expressed avowed commitments and loyalty to the principles of the United Nations Charter and work together closely in the UN, NAM, G-77 and other international fora for the common benefit of the humankind and in consolidating international peace and security. The two countries have always supported each other in all international issues of concern and in the resolution of all problems by peaceful means.
As a first one among all other South Asian nations, Nepal’s complete and unequivocal support for Kuwait’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity during the invasion and occupation by Iraq in 1990 has been well appreciated by the government and the people of Kuwait. On the kind invitation of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the President of Nepal, Dr Ram Baran Yadav visited Kuwait to attend the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of Independence, 20th Anniversary of Liberation and 5th Anniversary of ascendance of His Highness the Amir. The Government Nepal expresses its gratitude to His Highness the Amir for the gracious and kind invitation and is also thankful to the Government of the State of Kuwait for its generosity and cooperation extended to Nepal in all its endeavours.
There have been several other exchanges of formal, informal and private visits as well in the past between the two countries which have cemented our bonds of friendship and cooperation.
Kuwait is the first OPEC country to provide soft term loan to Nepal for two Hydro-electric Projects, dating back to 1977 and a supplementary loan of KD 2 million (US$ 7.4 million) to meet the cost overrun of the same project in 1979. Later, under an agreement signed on 25 January 1985, Kuwait provided KD 6 million (US$ 20 million) for civil works on consultancy of Marsyangdi Hydro Power Project. An agreement for a loan amounting to KD 1.5 million (US$ 5.05 million) was also concluded on 26 October 1998 for the execution of Praganna Kulo Irrigation Project in Dang district. The loan is being used for the construction and rehabilitation for irrigation canal and the intakes.
The visit of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal to Kuwait earlier this year has opened up a new vista of bilateral cooperation and further strengthened the bonds of our friendship and goodwill, particularly when the two countries have agreed to go further ahead in enhancing the cooperation of the State of Kuwait in the economic development of Nepal concentrating mainly on the infrastructural development. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development will extend technical assistance for a Road Project and has assured of cooperation for one hydro-power project during this year.
The Government of Nepal highly values the support and cooperation of the Government of the State of Kuwait in the opening of the new Embassy of Nepal last year. Nepal is looking for early opening of the Embassy of Kuwait in Nepal sometime this year.
Nepal and Kuwait have signed an agreement in last January, a kind of umbrella instrument, to establish a Joint Commission at the level of Foreign Ministers to cover the entire gamut of bilateral relations including political and economic cooperation. This is a milestone towards further developing our bilateral ties.
The Trade between Nepal and Kuwait has been very negligible and remained in favour of Kuwait. Although the Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) have some kind of mechanism to interact and cooperate with each with the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industries, there is no visible further progress. The two countries have very little interaction among the private sectors and need to strengthen this. The FNCCI is expected that a business team from Nepal will make a visit this year to interact with their counterparts in Kuwait and discuss the possibilities of cooperation in the areas of trade and investment. Nepal has a number of exportable items including the agriculture and finished products which can have a very good market in Kuwait.
Studies have shown that Nepal has one of the world’s highest hydro-power potential (83,000 Megawatt) from its river systems of which over 45,000 MW has been considered as commercially feasible. This sector can, therefore, be one of the most potential areas of investment for the Kuwaiti investors because of the increasing demand for power in the market both within and outside including in the neighbouring countries.
Nepal can also be a very good tourism destination for the Kuwaiti nationals. It is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity because of its geographical position and variation in altitude. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 m above the sea level to the highest point on earth, Mount Everest, 8848 m high, all within a distance of 150 km. Some other specialties any tourist can enjoy in Nepal are ; 8 % of the world population (over 848 species) of birds, 4 % of mammals on earth, 11of the world’s 15 families of butterflies, 600 indigenous plant families and 319 species of exotic orchids. There are four UNESCO World Heritage sites of which two are natural and two cultural, one being Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Among the outdoor attractions, very few can match Nepal in the variety of world class experience- be it trekking, mountain biking, nature tours, white water rafting, canoeing, pony trekking, jungle safaris, bird watching, bungy jumping, mountain flights etc.
At present, there are over 50,000 Nepalese nationals working in various jobs and establishments in Kuwait. However, in the absence of diplomatic representation in both the capitals, majority of them particularly in the domestic as well as labour sectors who are mostly unskilled had arrived Kuwait in the past without the official clearance of the Government of Nepal. However, the Government of Nepal, after the opening of the Embassy, has set up a mechanism to let the flow of workers on official approval of the Government. It is very encouraging to note that the flow of workers from Nepal in the corporate sector has also increased substantially in recent times. Since the opening of the new Embassy in Kuwait, the local companies as well as the Nepali Man Power Agencies have taken interests in this area. The Embassy has been trying to bring in the workers, in both corporate and domestic sectors, only with the approval of the Department of Foreign Employment of the Government of Nepal. The Nepali workers are known as hardworking, honest, dependable and peaceful. Kuwait can also utilize more skilled and semi-skilled workers in technical areas including mainly health, engineering and hospitality sectors. These workers, apart from making a substantial contribution to the national economy of Nepal through remittance, have also played a great role in strengthening the bonds of friendship between our two countries.
Posted by: Jay Ale Source: Kuwait Times, dated 29.05.2011