KATHMANDU, March 19: The government has eased the restriction on the import of peppercorns, peas, dates and betel nuts on condition.
Urmila KC, assistant spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, said a Cabinet meeting of March 9 decided to allow the import of these items through imposing quota restriction. In the new provision, traders can now import 15,000 tons each of betel nut and pepper and 5,000 tons of dates annually. “The quota restriction is applied for the bulk import made for industrial use,” she said.
In order to prevent the possible fall in foreign currency reserve after the imposition of the lockdown on March 24 last year, the government completely banned the import of the expensive edibles along with luxury vehicles. Traders import these goods from third countries and significant quantities of these imports are found to be smuggled to India.
Taking advantage of the provision of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, many Nepali traders in Nepal are found importing the goods from third countries to resell them in the Indian market. As the SAFTA has zero tariffs provision on goods exported from underdeveloped countries like Nepal, Nepali traders have been importing these goods from other countries paying minimum tariffs and then exporting the finished product to India with zero tariffs.
The government had enforced the restriction on the import of the aforementioned edibles also after the southern neighbor raised concerns over the increasing smuggling of these goods from Nepal.