Bhairahawa luring business away from Birgunj

- SHANKAR ACHARYA, PARSA
Trade through Birgunj plunged by half during the last fiscal year ending mid-July

Aug 11, 2016-Last year’s prolonged Tarai unrest and the Indian trade embargo that followed it had a devastating effect on Birgunj’s economy, the country’s major trade point between Nepal and India. 

According to Birgunj Customs, trade through the border city plunged by half during the last fiscal year ending mid-July. Imports fell 42.41 percent to Rs186 billion and exports dived 54.28 percent to Rs9.06 billion during the review period. 

The top 10 imports are jeep, car, van, motorcycle, auto spare parts, diesel, petrol, cement clinker, mini bus, LPG, truck and soya bean oil. Likewise, juice manufactured by Dabur Nepal, jam, toothpaste, iron pipe, carpet and readymade garment are the top exports.     

According to the customs office, its revenue collection also dropped 38.46 percent to Rs56 billion in the last fiscal year. “All the trade activities through Birgunj slowed in the past year,” said Lok Raj Panta, information officer of Birgunj Customs. “This is an impact of the six-month-long Tarai unrest and the border blockade.” 

Oil accounted for 40 percent of the customs revenue collected from imports. Everyone from workers to industrialists suffered during the Tarai unrest. 

The Department of Customs had to revise its revenue collection target for Birgunj Customs downward to Rs71 billion from the original target of Rs103 billion due to the unrest. In the previous fiscal year, the office had collected Rs91 billion in import-export revenue. 

Although, revenue collection improved immediately after the end of the Tarai unrest in February, it has not been good, he said. 

Bhairahawa, another key trade point located further west on the Nepal-India border, was widely used during the Tarai unrest and Indian trade embargo due to the less stringent restrictions here. Other trade points were tightly closed with Birgunj bearing the brunt of the blockade.

Bhairahawa was considered to be one of the safest routes for trade with the southern neighbour. Due to this reason, it became the first choice for traders rerouting their shipments of imported goods stuck in the Birgunj-Raxaul area.

With many traders using it as a permanent route for the transportation of their imports and exports even after the end of the embargo, Bhairahawa has been turning into one of the country’s main transit points. Most of the trading companies have rented land around Bhairahawa and constructed warehouses.

Major auto importers like Sipradi Trading, Laxmi Hyundai and the Chaudhary Group are not concentrated in Bhairahawa. 

Published: 11-08-2016 13:48

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