Virendra Sharma: High-level visits between Nepal and UK a must

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Virendra Sharma: High-level visits between Nepal and UK a must

Virendra Sharma is a member of the UK Parliament from the Labour Party. He has been holding this position since 2007. He has also been following Nepal for 40 years, and has always stood in favor of enhancing the Nepal-UK ties. Kamal Dev Bhattarai of ApEx talked to him during his recent visit to Kathmandu. Excerpts:

How do you view the current state of bilateral relationship between UK and Nepal?

The bilateral relationship is healthy, parties in both countries genuinely want to further nurture this relationship. Britain wants to assist in the infrastructure of this country. British people have a lot of respect for Nepali people. And that respect shows that there is a good relationship between Nepal and the United Kingdom. The key pillars of our bilateral relations are culture, trade and investment. Nepal should say what kind of assistance it needs from the UK.

We have a lot of potential in bilateral relations, which has not been fully utilized. How could the situation be improved?

It is for both parties to react. When you are negotiating, if one party is less demanding, the other party is less responding. I believe that both countries need to identify the potential in society which benefits not only the individuals but wide communities in the world.

What is the current state of trade and investment between the two countries and how can it be enhanced?  

First, a lot of people want to invest in and visit Nepal. Investment and tourism are two major areas Nepal needs to look at. Nepal needs to create that environment where people feel comfortable to come, feel safe to come, with the knowledge that their investment is safe and their life is safe. It is a responsibility of the Nepal government and Nepali people. In the same way, when Nepali people go overseas, including in Britain, they will look for the same facilities. It is the responsibility of the Nepal government to look at it seriously, so that we can enhance tourism and investment here.

What are your suggestions to bring more investment from the UK to Nepal?

I am not saying it (investment) is not there but perceptions could be wrong.  Nepal needs to identify the areas where it needs investment. Infrastructure, energy, climate change, water saving, natural resources and sharing of knowledge could be some areas.

Why aren’t high-level visits taking place between the two countries?

I share that concern, and I believe high-level visits create confidence to give momentum to bilateral relations. It is a mutual responsibility of both parties whether Nepal is putting pressure on the UK prime minister and others to come. I am not criticizing anybody but why is it not happening? It is a responsibility of both countries and people like myself to say why they should visit and what benefits it brings to not only the two countries but to the wider society.

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