May 15: Petroleum products, vehicles and industrial raw materials dominated the list of goods entering the country through the Birgunj customs, which accounts for about half of Nepal’s foreign trade. This was revealed by the import-export data for the nine months of the current Fiscal Year (FY 2021/22).
According to the Birgunj Customs Office, these items have been included in the list of 20 main items imported in the current fiscal year. The customs chief Harihar Poudel informed that the five main items imported were diesel, petrol, four-wheeler (jeep/car/van), motorcycle and LP gas respectively.
Trucks, buses, and pick-up vehicles are also among the main items entering through this customs. The import volume of coal used by the domestic cement industry as auxiliary raw material is also significant. Clinker, which used to be imported in the past, has been removed from the list of main imported items as it is now produced in the country itself. Coal is used to make clinkers.
Similarly, the data shows that semi-refined soybean, sunflower and palm oil are also imported significantly through this customs point. The 14 oil industries operating in the Bara-Parsa industrial corridor import raw materials through this checkpoint. They have been processing and exporting raw materials imported from Ukraine, Russia, Australia, Indonesia and other countries.
Poudel said that refined oil is the main contributor to the export at present. However, due to Russia-Ukraine tensions and restrictions on palm oil exports imposed by Indonesia, imports of raw materials have now been halted, according to entrepreneur Suresh Rungta. He said that instead of semi-refined oil, soybean seeds are imported from the USA and Canada to manufacture oil.
Similarly, raw materials required for the iron industry like steel strip, billet etc. are also included in the list of main imported goods. As per the data of the customs office, polythene granules, tobacco, soft drinks and other items are also imported through this checkpoint.