Iron ore top import item in first quadrimester of this fiscal
Kathmandu, December 10
With Nepal’s total trade squeezed by 37.9 per cent in the first four months of this fiscal due to border blockade and protest in the Tarai region of the country, iron ore knocked petroleum products off from its top spot in the import list.
The import bill of iron ore during the review period stood at Rs 17.4 billion in the first four months of this fiscal as compared to Rs 27.2 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC). Even as the import of iron ore also dropped significantly, the disparity is not as glaring as with petroleum products because this item is imported from third countries and ferried via rail from Kolkata port.
Import of petroleum products, which used to be the top import item of the country in the past years, has dropped by a whopping 62.9 per cent as compared to the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. The country’s total import bill of petroleum products stood at Rs 15.35 billion, whereas the country had imported petroleum products worth Rs 41.4 billion in the first four months of last fiscal.
The import bill of petroleum products in the last month (mid-October to mid-November) of the review period stood at a mere Rs 1.97 billion, as against Rs 13.38 billion worth of petroleum products imported in the first three months (mid-July to mid-October) of this fiscal. Petroleum products are ferried only via land route which has been badly affected due to the protest.
Similarly, import of vehicles and vehicle parts dropped by 41 per cent to Rs 10.23 billion in the review period as compared to Rs 17.34 billion of the first four months of last fiscal.
Also, import of pharmaceutical products slumped by 40.8 per cent to Rs 3.82 billion. The country had imported pharmaceutical products worth Rs 6.45 billion in the first four months of last fiscal, according to TEPC.
The dismal trade figures in the first four months of this fiscal are in stark contrast to a surge by 19.5 per cent in the first quadrimester of the previous fiscal. The data also points towards the possibility of significant revenue loss for government and challenges in financing various expenditures. According to the Ministry of Finance, revenue loss by the third week of November was at around Rs 30 billion.
The country imported goods worth Rs 160.63 billion in the first quadrimester (mid-July to mid-November) as compared to imports worth Rs 260.52 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, which is a decline of 38.3 per cent, as per TEPC.
The prolonged protest in the Tarai and border blockade since the last two-and-a-half months called by Madhes-based political parties have affected supplies from India as well as third-country cargoes ferried via road from the Kolkata port, which is the only gateway for Nepal’s trade with third countries via sea. There are long queues of vehicles laden with Nepal-bound cargoes, gas bullets and fuel tankers stranded at Nepal-India border points since long due to border blockade.
BBC Hindi, today, reported that there is a 14-km long queue of vehicles at Sunauli border of India. Vehicles laden with daily essentials, fuel and industrial raw materials have been queuing to enter Nepal.
However, Indian customs has reportedly been dispatching only a limited number of trucks and containers every day even though there is no disturbance in Bhairahawa.
In the review period, the country’s import from its major trading partner, India, dropped by 43.4 per cent to Rs 95.32
billion. The country had imported goods worth Rs 168.52 billion in the first four months of the previous fiscal.
Likewise, country’s exports declined by 30.5 per cent to Rs 20.85 billion in the review period. In first quadrimester of last fiscal, Nepal had exported goods worth Rs 30.01 billion.
Though export of major export items — carpets and garments, among others — increased, decline in major export items to India like textiles, yarn and juices affected the
export income. The country’s export to India has fallen by 39.3 per cent to Rs 10.99 billion as compared to Rs 18.10 billion of the first quadrimester of the previous fiscal.
The country’s export, import ratio stood at 1:7.7 in the review period and trade deficit stood at Rs 139.78 billion, down 39.4 per cent as compared to the trade deficit of the first quadrimester of the previous fiscal. Trade deficit had surged by 26.3 per cent in the first four months of the previous fiscal to
Rs 230.51 billion.