KATHMANDU, April 22: Nepal imported goods worth Rs 1.11 trillion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, which is almost equal to the total import expenses of Rs 1.19 trillion that the country made in the entire period of fiscal year 2019/20.
According to the Department of Customs (DoC), Nepal spent 13.12 percent more on imports during mid-July and mid-April this fiscal year compared to the same period in the last fiscal year. The figure is 11.72 times more than the amount that the country earned from exports worth Rs 94.76 billion.
The DoC records show that Nepal gained a notable growth of 12.49 percent in its export earnings during the review period. Having a low exports basket, Nepal’s achievement in exports however is put to shadow by the excessive rise in imports. As a result, the country’s trade deficit grew by 12.49 percent to Rs 1.01 trillion.
The exports volume this year, however, has posted some hope that Nepal could achieve record high exports of over Rs 100 billion, which the government has been dreaming of for the past several years. Earlier, the government had targeted to attain this export target by the end of the 12th plan (fiscal year 2012/13), but it failed to achieve it as the exports reached meager Rs 77 billion that year. The government had maintained its ambitious target in the 13th plan too, but it did not get success in the successive years too.
The World Bank's Nepal Development Update published two weeks ago has shown that Nepal has an untapped export potential worth an estimated $ 9.2 billion. Given the potential is utilized; it could create 220,000 new jobs, according to the international lending institution.
Purushottam Ojha, a former Commerce Secretary, said Nepal can tap its exports potential by having a bilateral tie-up with its trading partner countries to ensure trade facilitation and investment enabling measures.