Nepal had attracted modest FDI in niche sectors such as tourism, herbal products, mineral deposits (lime stone), and light manufacturing apparel; hydro power and that it had positive impacts on exports, particularly garments. FDI has also enabled the country to export non- traditional manufactured products such as micro-transformers and personal consumer products (UNCTAD, 2003b). Investment was mainly in low-technology, labour-intensive production. The impact of FDI had also been modest, primarily in job creation.
According to the study, FDI inflow was constrained by political instability, outdated foreign investment law, rigid labour regulations and poor physical infrastructure. This situation remains current due to political instability and political transition. FDI is considered beneficial in view of its contribution to technological transfers, enhancement of managerial capability and new opportunities for market access. FDI, particularly in the form of equity investment, adds to the capital stock of the country and thus enables the recipient country to achieve faster economic growth through momentum in capital formation.
Increases in FDI are also seen as leading to increases in exports by creating international markets through new marketing and organizational skills. The inflow of FDI in Nepal began in the early 1980s through the gradual opening up of the economy. From 1980 to 1989, FDI inflows to Nepal were minimal with an annual average of US$ 500,000. FDI inflow showed a distinct acceleration during the 1990s averaging US$ 11 million per annum during 1990-2000, peaking at US$ 23 million in 1997 (UNCTAD, 2003b and 2006).
This was primarily due to Nepal¶s more liberal trade policies, which comprised tariff rate reductions, the introduction of a duty drawback scheme, the adoption of a current account convertibility system and liberalization of the exchange rate regime. A reversal in the rising trend took place from the beginning of the 2000s. All in all, FDI inflow is the lowest in Nepal even when compared with other landlocked countries (World Bank, 2003). A comparison of other Asian countries, Nepal indicates a poor performance of FDI (UNCTAD, 2003b).
The fact that Nepal is landlocked, coupled with its infrastructure and low level of labour productivity has also constrained FDI inflow into the country. Many foreign investors in Nepal are individuals rather than corporate entities. Most of the FDI projects are of small size 72%, medium-sized 16. 5% and large-sized industries 11. 5% Much of the FDI inflow is for joint ventures because of non-commercial risks by offering shares to local partners. Most of the FDI in Nepal is Greenfield-type investment rather than acquisition.
FDI is highly concentrated in the manufacturing sector, which accounted for slightly more than 45 per cent of approved FDI projects. Within the manufacturing sector, the textile and garment industry accounts for 28 per cent of total foreign investment, followed by the chemical and plastic industries at 25. 3 percent. Tourism is second, accounting for almost 25 per cent of total FDI projects, followed by the service sector with 20 per cent of FDI projects. Although the electricity, water and gas sector has just a few FDI projects, it ranks fourth highest in terms of the size of FDI inflow.
In total, FDI comes from 50 countries. But the scale and number of projects by each country vary considerably. Of that total, in terms of investment, India alone accounted for more than 40 per cent, followed by the United States and China. Those three countries alone account for two-thirds of cumulative FDI in Nepal. In terms of number of FDI projects, India ranks first, followed by China, Japan and the United States. Nepalese and Indian nationals do not need passports or visas when traveling between their countries. Similarly, the Indian currency is freely convertible in Nepal.
A special relationship with India regarding preferential trade arrangements also provides an additional incentive to Indian investors. Legal and Institutional Framework Nepal can not be far from the benefits of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). So Nepal has been given priority for the attraction of FDI and its development by different polices and rules in national and international level to promote foreign investment and technology transfer for making the economy viable, dynamic and competitive through the maximum mobilization of the capital, human and other natural resources.
Global level Today, Nepal is one of the most liberalized countries in the South Asian region. However, growth performance has been very poor in recent years. In this context, a closer examination of the linkages between foreign direct investment and growth is critically important from a policy point of view. There are highly liberal FDI and GDP-related policies supplemented by important Acts. In the aftermath of liberalization that began in the early 1990s, FDI increased substantially.
However, that could not be sustained for long. After becoming a World Trade Organization (WTO) member in 2004, Nepal has been pursuing further opening up and liberalization policies on the FDI. Nepal is also a member of the South Asian Preferential Trade Arrangement (SAPTA) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Scrotal Technical and Economic Cooperation-Free Trade Area (BIMST-EC FTA). New initiatives on FDI have been taken with the aim of enhancing sustained growth and reducing poverty. Incentive Level
Although the Government of Nepal (GON) is open to foreign direct investment, implementation of its policies is often distorted by bureaucratic delays and inefficiency. Besides this, Nepal is still facing some problems for FDI because of lack of direct access to seaports, difficult land transport and lack of trained personnel, scarce raw materials, inadequate power insufficient water supply, non-transparent capricious tax administration inadequate and obscure commercial legislation, and unclear rules regarding labor relations.
In the pre-liberalization period, the investment regime was more restrictive. Investors had to obtain a government licence before undertaking any production and business activities. The FDI was almost nil before 1980. Although some attempts to liberalize the investment policy were made from the beginning of the 1980s, it was speeded up only after 1990. To ensure investment, both domestic and foreign, the Government adopted various liberal policies, which are still in operation.
These policies include the Industrial Policy, 1992, Industrial Enterprises Act, 1992 (first amendment, 1997), Foreign Investment and One- window Policy, 1992, the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act, 1992, the Finance Act of 2002 and the recent Finance Ordinance 2004 (an annual budget act); the Immigration Rules of 1994; the Customs Act of 1997; the Industrial Enterprises Act of 1997; the Electricity Act of 1992; and the Patent, Design and Trademark Act of 1965. In a positive development, Nepal passed the Copyright Act in 2002 etc.