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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Nepal becomes WTO's latest member
By Sushil Sharma
BBC correspondent in Kathmandu

Market seller in Kathmandu, Nepal
Nepal has very few surplus goods
Nepal has formally joined the World Trade Organisation, becoming the body's 147th member.

The government says membership offers challenges and opportunities to the country's subsistence economy.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world; its imports far exceed exports, causing a huge trade deficit.

Membership is expected to give Nepal easy access to world markets which could boost exports and revive the country's economy.

Little to export

However, taking advantage of the new opportunity will also be quite challenging.

Nepal has few industries and hence very little to export.

Garments and carpets account for most of the country's total exports.

Despite being an agricultural economy, it does not have enough surplus produce.

Threats to domestic industries from cheap imports also loom.

A senior official at the industry and commerce ministry said plans are underway to maximise gains and minimise the threats to domestic economy.

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