KATHMANDU, May 25: Nepal’s earnings from merchandise exports crossed Rs 100 billion during the first ten months of the current fiscal year. This is probably the first time that the landlocked country’s export earnings crossed the threshold amount.
The record with the Department of Customs (DoC) shows that the country exported goods worth Rs 108.47 billion during mid-July 2020 and mid-May 2021, which was 32.19 percent more than the amount during the same period last year. The government had long been setting a goal to exceed the target for almost over a decade.
The government in its Three-Year Interim Plan (2007/08-2009/10) had set a target to take the country’s export earnings over Rs 100 billion. Although the target was nearly achieved in the last fiscal year, with the country achieving exports value of Rs 96 billion, it faced a snag due to the impacts of lockdown and COVID-19.
The World Bank in its Nepal Development Update 2021 has stated that Nepal still lags far behind in terms of harnessing its potential of exports. The report estimates that Nepal's untapped export potential or “missing” exports stands at around US $9.2 billion, 12 times its actual annual merchandise exports.
During the review period, Nepal exported a notable volume of edible oils, tea, woolen carpets and iron and steel, among others. Trade expert Purushottam Ojha said exports increased mainly due to the duty-free market access being provided to Nepal by a number of countries.
Despite attaining the record high exports, Nepal’s trade performance still appears pathetic. In the review period, the country spent 12 times more on imports as compared to its export earnings. As a result, the trade deficit escalated by 21.48 percent to Rs 1.14 trillion, according to the DoC.