Govt removes quota on import of betel nuts, peas, peppercorns and dates

Published On: March 10, 2022 06:55 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The govt move is suspected to benefit a few traders while the country struggles to maintain adequate foreign currency reserves  

KATHMANDU, March 10: The government has removed the quantitative restriction on the import of betel nuts, peas, peppercorns and dates at a time when a number of government bodies are mulling over restricting the import of luxury items, citing depleting foreign currency reserves.   

Publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette on Thursday, the government has removed the quota restriction for the factories if these goods are to be used as raw materials by the factories concerned. As per the provision, the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection will be providing import licenses to the firms on the recommendation of the Department of Industry.

Recently, the government adopted a stern policy on the import of several luxury items like automobiles and gold, among others. Surprisingly, the government has turned flexible to the import of high-priced goods when the country is reeling under a critical foreign currency shortage, said a government official on condition of anonymity.  

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 a zero tariff 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.

Traders import these goods from third countries while significant quantities of these imports are found to be smuggled to India.

In order to prevent the possible fall in the foreign currency reserves after the imposition of the lockdown on March 24, 2020, the government completely banned the import of the expensive edibles along with luxury vehicles. Following pressure from the traders concerned, the government in March 2021 eased the quantitative restriction.


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