First trade deficit with Bangladesh in 10 years

- PARBAT PORTEL, Kakadvitta
First trade deficit with Bangladesh in 10 years

Aug 5, 2015-

For the first time in 10 years, Nepal recorded a trade deficit with Bangladesh in 2014-15, thanks to a fall in the export of lentils.

Nepal had been enjoying a surplus in trade with Bangladesh since 2004-05.

According to Nepal Transit and Warehousing Company, Nepal exported goods worth Rs1.15 billion, against imports of Rs2.53 billion last fiscal year.

“The trade deficit more than doubled last fiscal year, and it was Nepal’s trade deficit with Bangladesh for the first time in 10 years,” said Yadav Siwakoti, chief of the company.

The government-undertaking company provides warehousing facilities at Haldia Port in Kolkata, and conducts all the transit-related activities.

When Nepal and Bangladesh had just begun, the latter enjoyed a trade surplus for few years. During 1996-97, export from Bangladesh used to be at Rs13 million, while Nepal used to export goods worth Rs1.1 million.

In 1997-98, Nepal’s exports figure jumped Rs42.3 million, while imports were at Rs48 million. “Trade fluctuation remained for few years. However, from 2004-05, Nepal started to observe trade surplus,” said Siwakoti.

The company said the fall in the export lentils pulled down the overall trade. Of the total exports, lentils account for more than 50 percent.

According to the Trade and Exports Promotion Centre, Bangladesh is the second biggest market for Nepali products. In 2012-13, Nepal exported lentils worth Rs2.71 billion to Bangladesh.

However, the export dropped to Rs1.96 billion and Rs 1.11 billion in 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively. “Drop the lentil exports affected the whole trade with Bangladesh,” Siwakoti added.

Besides, vegetables and herbs are other commodities exported to Bangladesh. As the demand for vegetables and fruits has been increasing, Nepal needs to focus on such products, said a local trader Dilip Timsina.

“Bangladesh has been increasing its export items to Nepal every year, but Nepal has not been able to do so,” said Bimal Acharya, member of the Eastern Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Bangladesh exports more than 20 products, including medicine, solar, raw jute, jam, powder milk, potatoes to Nepal.

The trade route of Kakarvitta-Phulbari-Banglabandh, connecting Nepal with Bangladesh, was opened in 1997.

In the last 18 years, total Nepal-Bangladesh trade stood at Rs 37.92 billion. Of the total, Nepal’s exports amounted to Rs26.58 billion.

Published: 06-08-2015 08:39

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