May 26: Amid growing concerns over rising imports and the consequent pressure on foreign exchange reserves, the Department of Customs on Tuesday released promising data.
According to the country’s foreign trade data in the first ten months of the current fiscal year (mid-July-mid-May) released by the department on Tuesday, goods worth Rs 137 billion were imported from abroad in the month of Baishakh (mid-April to mid-May), which is less than the imports in the previous month (mid-March to mid-April) by Rs 20 billion.
The imports of Nepal had reached an all-time high of Rs 188 billion in the month of Mangsir (mid-November to mid-December) last year.
The impact of the government's policy to curb imports of luxury goods has been felt in May. The central bank had been taking various steps to control imports since December. In the first week of December, NRB had introduced a provision for keeping a 50 to 100 per cent cash margin while opening LC for the import of some items.
Later, NRB called the chief executive officers of all commercial banks on April 7 and verbally instructed them not to open LCs for the import of luxury goods.
On April 29, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies published a notice in the Nepal Gazette and banned the import of 10 types of goods including vehicles, till the end of the current fiscal year (mid-July).
According to the department, goods worth Rs 1646.50 billion have been imported till mid-May against goods worth Rs 1,254.11 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year.
Imports in the current fiscal year has increased by 27.95 percent compared to last fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Nepal’s exports increased by 59.80 per cent to Rs 173.34 billion during the review period. Although the growth rate of exports is high, it has not been able to play a significant role in reducing the trade deficit. As a result, the trade deficit has increased to over Rs 1431.30 billion. The trade deficit increased by 24.94 per cent compared to the same period of the previous year.
Statistics from the department show that mostly fuels were imported during this period. The first, second and third imported items are diesel, petrol and cooking gas, respectively. Diesel import has reached more than Rs 123.70 billion as of mid-May.
More than Rs 54.83 billion has been spent on importing petrol. Similarly, cooking gas worth more than Rs 52.59 billion has been imported during this period. Iron and steel raw materials constitute the fourth most imported items with imports worth Rs 43.55 billion.
Soybean oil tops the list of Nepal’s exported items. Soybean oil worth Rs 45.35 billion was exported during the review period. Refined bleached deodorized palm olein worth Rs 14.78 billion was exported. It is the second-largest exported item. Palm oil is the third-largest export, worth more than 13.97 billion.