At the outset let us thank all donors and development partners who have helped or tried to help Nepal in the past. While many benefits can be listed for the positive impact of aid, prosperity for Nepal will come from trade. In recent times we have all become aware of low aid creates dependency and also crowds out local initiatives, investments and creativity.
From agriculture produce, hydropower to carpets, Nepal has so much the world likes to buy from. Combine the beautiful products with personalized services and care for quality and we have real winners. Many parts of Nepal that we consider as poor today were once on major trade routes and the languages, culture, monuments, food, jewelry, clothes that we are so proud of were the result of thriving trade.
We need our young people at home
Nepal sends young men and women to work abroad and with the money they send home we import fossil fuel from the same countries. This situation has to change. During the first and second world wars, Nepal sent off so many young people to fight that the country suffered huge food shortages due to lack of people to till the land. Africa is poor because countries took away their young people as slaves for centuries.
Today Nepal has a young population that gives us a real chance at becoming a peaceful and prosperous country once again. We have to tap the creativity and talent of these young people to produce goods and services that can go into the global market. Young people go where there are opportunities. We need to create them here.
Nepal has products the world wants and values
Nepal is well known all over the world market as the source of carpets, pashmina, lokta, handcraft, herbs and oils and more recently dog chew and crazy felt hats. Nepalis have always traded with Tibet to the north and Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to the south. The Kathmandu valley became prosperous by facilitating the trade between Lhasa and the Gangetic plain.
The real advantage for Nepal is that we have products that do not have to compete with goods from other parts of the world. Many are endemic to Nepal and the Himalaya. In the past we did make mistakes by trying to compete with things made in India or China and we failed. Lokta is not just paper, it is lokta. Timur is not Szechwan pepper it is timur. Nepali carpets are not Belgium carpets and should never be. Branding them becomes a critical input in this process.