Three responsible government bodies have created confusion publishing three different data on the country’s overall foreign trade. The data published by the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), Department of Customs, and Trade and Export Promotion Center (TEPC) are different from each other.
The TEPC data, considered the most authentic, has reported the highest trade deficit for the last fiscal year at Rs 631.41 billion, a rise of 20.5 percent on the preceding year’s Rs 523 billion. The TEPC is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, and it also collects data apart from promoting trade. The department has put trade deficit at Rs 622 billion and the central bank at Rs 618 billion. Experts say such problems arise due to lack of integrated data system in the country. The TEPC data has also showed the highest import at Rs 722.78 billion. The data published by the TEPC on Monday shows export of Rs 91.36 billion. There is not much difference in the data of the department and NRB for import. Similarly, there is little difference in the data of the department and TEPC for export. The NRB’s data puts export at Rs 90.29 billion, Rs 1.07 billion less than that of TEPC. The NRB’s data puts import at Rs 708 billion. The department’s data puts import at Rs 722.26 billion, Rs 520 million less than that of TEPC, and export at Rs 99.71 billion, Rs 8.35 billion more than that of TEPC.
TEPC Director Suyash Khanal claims that the TEPC’s data is authentic. “The other two bodies maintain record only of the two main customs points. We have gone to all the customs points to collect data. We, therefore, needed more time to publish our data,” he states. “Our data is the official data. The state also formulates policies on the basis of our data,” he adds. He reveals that the TEPC data has also included food items, dairy products, edible oil and machinery received in foreign assistance as per international standards. “The NRB prepares its on the basis of balance of payments (BOP). There is obviously no mention of assistance in that. The NRB also collects its data only from the major customs points where ASICUDA system has been implemented,” he explains. He claims that the data of department is different as it does not include the data of goods exported from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
Export of woolen carpets rose by 30.5 percent to Rs 7.38 billion, according to the TEPC data published Monday. Similarly, export of readymade garments increased by 46 percent to Rs 5.60 billion, pashmina shawls by 29.4 percent to Rs 2.82 billion, iron and steel products by 1.7 percent to Rs 11.83 billion, polyesters and other threads by 10.3 percent to Rs 6.43 billion. Export of masuro lentil, however, fell by 23.02 percent to Rs 2.04 billion. The country also exported leather worth Rs 1.39 billion, cardamom worth Rs 4.27 billion, tea worth Rs 2.03 billion, ginger worth Rs 450 million, noodles worth Rs 820 million, medicinal herbs worth Rs 1.60 billion, toothpaste worth Rs 1.13 billion and textiles worth Rs 5.65 billion.
Import of iron and steel products rose by 14 percent to Rs 65.44 billion, petroleum products by 21 percent to Rs 134.41 billion, vehicles and spare parts by 24.8 percent to Rs 40.30 billion, electric and electronic materials by 23.7 percent to Rs 28.92 billion, medicines by 9.3 percent to Rs 16.63 billion, machinery and spare parts by 23.9 percent to Rs 41.43 billion. The country imported gold worth Rs 23.97 billion during the last fiscal year.
94 percent of export within SAARC to India
Export to India constitutes 94 percent of Nepal’s total export in the SAARC region. The country goods exported worth Rs 63.31 billion in the SAARC region during the year out of which goods worth Rs 59.45 billion were exported to India. Goods worth Rs 2.14 billion were exported to Bangladesh, Rs 90 million to Bhutan, Rs 80 million to Pakistan, Rs 1 billion to Afghanistan and Rs 5 million to Maldives. India’s contribution in import is 99.4 percent with the country importing goods worth Rs 482 billion from the southern neighbor out of Rs 485 billion from the SAARC region. Goods worth Rs 1.72 billion were imported from Bangladesh, Rs 350 million from Pakistan, and Rs 680 million from Sri Lanka.