Bhairahawa emerges as top import route

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 27, 2016-

As imports through Birgunj and Jaleshwor customs points continue to decline, other major border crossings have witnessed a significant rise in the trade activity in the first seven months of this fiscal year.

Bhairahawa emerged as the top import route. As of the seventh month, imports through Bhairahawa stood at Rs82.99 billion. It was followed by Biratnagar (61.68 billion) and TIA (Rs56.72 billion). The Sirsiya Dry Port stood fourth, while the Birgunj customs point was pushed to fifth position, according to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) statistics. 

Imports through Birgunj slumped 74.5 percent as of mid-February, while those through Jaleshwor were down 20.3 percent. 

Kailali saw the highest 132 percent growth in imports, followed by Krishnangar, Mechi and Bhairahwa. Imports through Biratnagar, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and Nepalgunj also posted growth. Six of the major customs points saw decline in imports over the review period. These include the Tatopani customs point that has been non-operational since the April 25 earthquake. 

“Goods imported based on the letters of credits opened during the blockade are just arriving. This might be a reason for the surge in imports through customs points other than Birgunj,” said Surya Sedai, information officer at the Department of Customs (DoC). “But it is also true that Biratnagar and Bhairahawa customs points are being used more in recent days instead of Birgunj.”

Traders also said they were not sure whether Birgunj would continue to remain open as Madhes-based parties are threatening to intensify protests. “The traders are not willing to take risk,” said Vijaya Kumar Sarawagi, chairperson of the trade committee at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “The traders have lost confidence in the government. Even my firm has been importing most of the goods through the Dry Port.”

After remaining closed for more than four months, the Birgunj customs point resumed operations from the first week of February after India’s trade blockade was lifted.

Meanwhile, the government’s customs revenue collection has started rise. In the first 11 days of the month between mid-March and mid-April, the average daily collections have exceeded targets, according to DoC. However, Birgunj and a few other customs points have been struggling. “Although monthly targets are being met lately, recovering the revenue lost during the blockade period is a challenge,” said Sedai.

Published: 27-03-2016 09:35

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