Going Global with “Made in Nepal”

-Subhekshya Ghimire

Ms. Ghimire ​​is a research intern at Samriddhi Foundation, an economic policy think tank based in Kathmandu. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the views of the organization. Author can be reached at Subhekshya Ghimire [email protected] 

The domestic consumers in Nepal have been time and again urged to buy Nepal made products. The government has even stressed that the consumers should be ready to pay 20% higher for Nepali products. Many producers use it as a selling point for their products and are reaping the benefits with blooming sales revenue. This boom is fueled by emotions and power demand even though the products have premium pricing. The longevity of this kind of growth is doubtful as price is one of the major factors for consumers’ decision to buy a product. It is very easy for consumers to shift to cheaper products once they realize that they do not have an obligation to buy such products just because they are made in Nepal. 

To make Nepali products competitive and cheap, it’s important to target a larger audience. Targeting a niche audience and selling at exclusive pricing isn’t inherently problematic. But, it is concerning if the products don’t meet the international standards and only flourish inside closed doors. Nepal’s market is relatively small, and the pool of consumers who can afford the absurd pricing is even smaller. In order to thrive and scale, businesses must meet global benchmarks and expand to the global market. 

Goldstar is a great example of a product that has done commendable work inside the country with quality products that are affordable. Its popularity and the competitiveness in the shoe industry of Nepal has pushed it to produce new designs with a range of prices, giving consumers the option to choose with their respective budget constraints. This remarkable effort has led the whole industry to grow and has now spread its footprint to the world scene too.

It is imperative that the businesses should be backed with policies that push them to attain global standards and reduce their production cost. The policies should prioritize steering the entrepreneurs to work on ideas that have a comparative advantage. The focus should be in simplifying the process of starting and operating businesses to make the business environment stronger. They should cultivate a skilled workforce while navigating a stronger investment climate. The financial system should be reliable enough to provide security to the risk-taking enterprises. The recent saga related to Yatri bike registration is a bitter reminder of the obstacles that still exist. If such cases persist, even local entrepreneurs, let alone the foreign investors, may hesitate to initiate new ventures in the country.

In a country where policies have shown no signs to ignite innovation, the government should provide enough space for innovation to drive certain policies. Government commitments should be reflected in actions that bring about high competition, better quality, and cheaper prices. 

Nepal should nurture industries with comparative advantage, significant to serve the vast markets of neighboring giants India and China. This aligns with the concept of “optimal divergence.” It underscores the importance of recognizing that Nepal will continue to rely on imports for many goods. The key is to identify areas where Nepal excels and capitalizes on them. An excellent example is Saudi Arabia’s transition from reliance on oil production to a focus on tourism. The campaign supported by the move of international figures like Neymar and Ronaldo has gathered much attention and expanded their global reach.

Nepal needs to identify its winners and the focus should now shift to introducing them to the bigger markets. “Made in Nepal ” should not remain a strategic move, it should be navigated to make an established brand that markets and sells for itself.