Letters

Gap in export

Kathmandu

Feb 5, 2019-

Conserving precious foreign exchange by cutting nonessential imports such as liquor, vehicles, luxury items and further curtailing exchange facilities for foreign holidays is the only best way to maintain reserves and balance of payment (‘Foreign currency expenses to be tightened to check balance of payments deficit’, TKP Money page 1, January 28).  However, just conserving the limited foreign exchange reserve will not help. In order to replenish depleting foreign exchange and maintaining the balance of payments at all times, the next best way is through massive exports of goods, services and labour, our most dependable staple. If it wants to ensure the figure of 12 percent growth thrown at Davos, the government has no option but to turn the country into export-based economy. For this, it must declare the entire country as SEZ—rather than a few industrial centres with two dozen or so industries producing pipes and minerals.

According to the experts, our primary exports are agricultural products, hydropower, tourism and labour. But we must also align our industries in producing 77 goods that the US has specially offered us until 2025. We must not let such opportunities pass us by. We can learn lessons of strengthening the economy through exports from our neighbours like Bangladesh and Thailand. Bangladesh, which picked up the garment industry years after us, today exports to the tune of UD$29 billion (2017). And Thailand, which started inbound tourism at the same time as us, earned 49 billion dollars from 35 million tourists in 2017. It is poised to handle over 40 million tourists in 2019.

Let this reality sink in. If the government wants to pull down the massive wall of imports, it must work on strategies to trigger volcanic pressure on exports. We need the export the size of Bangla garments and Thai tourism to make real progress. Exporting some pipes and a few kilos of honey or handling one or two million tourists will not help us in achieving 12 per cent growth.

- Manohar Shrestha, Kathmandu

Published: 05-02-2019 12:51

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