Kathmandu, July 19
At a time when the country’s ballooning trade deficit has been generating concerns from all corners, trade of refined palm oil has shown the potential of importing raw materials and exporting it with value addition.
Data maintained by the Department of Customs (DoC) of the first 11 months of fiscal 2018-19 reveal that Nepal exported refined palm oil worth an eye-popping Rs 8.70 billion.
It has only been a few months that the country started exporting refined palm oil, but its export has already unseated woollen carpets as the top export item. Nepal exported woollen carpets worth Rs 6.76 billion in the review period.
Surprisingly though, the macroeconomic update of the 11 months of last fiscal that was unveiled by Nepal Rastra Bank today still reveals woollen carpets as the top export item.
“As we only list the products that are fully manufactured within the country, refined palm oil has been listed under ‘others’ category,” explained Gunakar Bhatta, executive director of the Research Department of NRB.
Currently, crude palm oil is imported into the country, refined and then exported again. According to DoC officials, refined palm oil is being exported to India.
The DoC data reveal that 659,632 kg of refined palm oil worth just Rs 58.34 million was exported to India in the first month of the last fiscal. The export quantity had reached a whopping 80.08 million kg that amounted to more than Rs eight billion by the 11th month of last fiscal.
However, Rajendra Malla, senior vice-president of Nepal Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern over the export of refined palm oil.
“Rs eight billion is a huge sum of money,” said Malla, adding the government should think twice about promoting export of products that are not manufactured locally.
A version of this article appears in print on July 20, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.