Nepal finds widened trade deficits

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) – Nepal’s trade deficit widened to RS569.50 billion in the first five months of the fiscal year as imports of oil, construction materials, machinery, automobiles, electric appliances and airplane parts soared, according to Trade and Export Promotion Centre statistics. These products accounted for 49 per cent of the country’s total import bill.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, the trade deficit increased 35.5 per cent year-on-year. As per the trade facilitation body, the trade deficit reached RS115.03 billion last month (mid-November to mid-December). The import to export ratio jumped to 16.2:1, which means Nepal spent RS16.2 on imports for every rupee it earned from exports.

The country’s exports inched up 12.3 per cent to RS37.5 billion during the review period compared to a 33.8 per cent jump in imports. Import expenses stood at RS607 billion.

Imports of aircraft and parts soared more than fourfold to RS18.26 billion while imports of apparel and clothing accessories swelled more than threefold to RS16.46 billion.

Imports of petroleum products, the country’s largest import, were worth RS88 billion. Next on the list were imports of iron and steel products valued at RS73.23 billion and imports of machinery valued RS48.36 billion. The country spent RS44.12 billion on importing automobiles and parts, and RS23.23 billion on electrical equipments.

A file photo shows cargo trucks lining up at the highway in Sunsari, Nepal. – THE KATHMANDU POST/ANN

Deputy Executive Director of the Trade and Export Promotion Centre Suyash Khanal said the rise in the import of electrical equipment, mainly heating devices, rose due to a drop in the temperature.

According to the centre, imports of agricultural goods increased 14 per cent to RS91 billion. Export earnings from farm products rose 26 per cent to RS11.44 billion.

Executive Director of the Trade and Export Promotion Centre Sarad Bickram Rana said Nepal failed to benefit despite a notable rise in exports due to its small basket of exportable items.

Demand for non-agricultural goods such as woolen carpets, readymade garments, pashmina and yarn has been encouraging in recent days, according to him.

Export earnings from polyester and cotton, the country’s largest exports, increased 20 per cent to RS3.82 billion. They were followed by woollen carpets and readymade garments with export earnings of RS3.3 billion and RS3 billion respectively.

India bought 59 per cent of Nepal’s exports and sent 64 per cent of its imports. The US, Germany, the UK and Turkey were the major export destinations.