10/24/2008, 00.00
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Nepal fears global financial crisis, looks to China

by Kalpit Parajuili
So far, the tiny country has remained immune from the upheavals in the global economy. The Maoist government has not yet taken any measures to avoid repercussions on life in the country. But the fear is that the collapse of main donor countries will also drag Kathmandu into the crisis. The government counts on being supported by China.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The tiny country of Nepal is also trembling over the financial crisis. Scrunched between its gigantic neighbors, India and China, the country hopes to avoid being overturned by recent events that are shaking the global economy.

The government of Kathmandu has not yet approved any plan to address the situation. For now, the crisis has had no repercussions in Nepal, but the fear is that it could soon share in the fate of its neighbors. Economist Bishwambhar Pyakurel says: "So far our economic market is safe, especially, because of our small market in Kathmandu.” But, he adds, “we have no any measure to check this crisis. If the government doesn’t introduce certain policies, we will not remain untouched for long."

Former minister of the economy Ramsharan Mahat also says that for now, "the fall in the global economy has littlue influence on Nepal." The former director of the national economic planning commission, Jagadish Pokharel, is of the same opinion, but adds: "Most of the country’s plans depend on foreign economic donation and now our donors are themselves bankrupted. So, our development plans seem about to fail.” According to Pokharel, prospects could darken quickly: "We are not observing heavy impact now, but if such conditions remain for more than a week, our market is nowhere."

One of the poorest countries on the planet, Nepal has a backward economy, based on farming and livestock. Industrial development is concentrated in the area around the capital. The Nepal stock exchange (Nepse) is a tiny market that has been regulated according to international standards for only 15 years (in the photo, Nepse personnel in 1995).

The current trade minister, Baburam Bhattarai, is confident that "world economic leaders will improve their condition, and we hope Nepal will not be influenced." He sees the future of Nepal in relation to the markets of the country's two gigantic neighbors: China and India. A member of the Maoist government in power since April of this year, the minister says that "until China falls hard, we can defend our country."

The Nepse fell slightly this morning, by 0.5%. For now, right in the thick of the global crisis, the country continues to hold its breath in expectation that it will not be thrown into disarray, and in anticipation of encouraging signs from the Eurasian meeting underway in Beijing.

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