My Republica, May 10, 2019
Nepal enjoys trade surplus with only two dozen countries out of 151 trading partners
KATHMANDU: Nepal's trade deficit widened by 21.42 percent in the first nine months of the current fiscal year to Rs 991.79 billion. According to statistics released by the Department of Customs (DoC) on Wednesday, the country's trade deficit ballooned to a record high as exports growth lagged far behind rising imports.
Nepal exported goods and commodities worth Rs 69.82 billion as of mid-April, up by 16.88 percent from a year ago. The imports to exports ratio of the country has now reached 15.2 in the review period, up from 14.6 at the third quarter of FY2017/18. This means that the country has been importing 15.2 times more than what it exports.
The trade deficit of the country widening at an alarming rate in last few years has been a major concern for the government. While the government has recently taken some restrictive measures to control imports, such efforts so far have fallen flat. Even the government's strategy to boost exports by offering various incentives to exporters has not helped much, according to trade experts.
As always, petroleum products remained the major imported commodity of the country. According to the statistics, the country paid a total of Rs 182.44 billion to purchase petroleum productions from India -- the biggest trading partner of Nepal. Next on the list was iron and steel which accounted for nearly one-tenth (Rs 108.82) of the total imports. Machineries items (Rs 89.77 billion), motor vehicles (Rs 69.8 billion) and electrical items (Rs 65.71 billion) were other major imports of the country in the review period.
Toward exports, Nepal earned Rs 7.34 billion by selling vegetable oil. Similarly, man-made staple fiber (Rs 7.24 billion), carpet (Rs 5.76 billion ), coffee and tea (Rs 5.68 billion) and iron steel (Rs 4.97 billion) were other top exports of Nepal in the review period.
Nepal's highest trade deficit is with India. The country suffered trade deficit of Rs 642.67 billion with its southern neighbor in the review period. Similarly, Nepal's trade balance is also tilted in favor of China. In the review period, Nepal registered trade deficit of Rs 152.44 billion with the northern neighbor. United Arab Emirates (Rs 26.7 billion), France (Rs 16.4 billion) and Indonesia (Rs 12.95 billion) are among other countries with who Nepal suffers trade deficit. Even trade balance with the US, which was in favor of Nepal till the first seven months of FY2018/19, ended in the negative side in the last two months. The data shows that Nepal suffered a trade deficit of Rs 345 million with the US in the first three quarters of the current fiscal year.
Nepal enjoys trade surplus with only around two dozen countries like Uganda (Rs 1.4 million), Afghanistan (Rs 14.78 million), Central African Republic (Rs 275.83 million) and Algeria (Rs 68.65 million).