Nepal’s foreign trade surged by 79.71 per cent during the first month of the current 2021-2022 fiscal year that began in mid-July despite the Covid-19 impact, according to data from the Department of Customs.

Exports grew by 115.85 per cent to 20.76 billion NPR ($177 million), with imports up by 75.66 percent to 150.73 billion NPR ($1.28 billion) year-on-year during the period.

“Both trading and industrial activities were allowed to operate in a relatively unrestricted manner during the first month of this fiscal year, compared with the same period of last fiscal year,” Punya Bikram Khadka, information officer at the department told Xinhua news agency on Sunday.

“After more than a year since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020, we have learned to live with the virus while continuing the economic activities.”

Nepal lifted a nearly four-month-long national lockdown on July 22 last year when the 2020-21 fiscal year began.

Even though the second wave of the coronavirus hit the country hard this year, the government did not re-impose a national lockdown but allow local authorities to move on their own.

With fewer Covid-19 cases reported, local authorities had eased the restrictive measures, and the three districts in the Kathmandu Valley lifted the lockdown.

According to Khadka, Nepal’s exports were boosted by a massive shipment of palm oil to India, which is basically re-export.

The imports surged due to a growing demand for medical equipment amid the pandemic, electronic items, including mobile phones and computers, gold, petroleum products and vehicles, among others, according to the department.

Nepal’s trade with India and China, its two largest trading partners, grew significantly in the first month of the current fiscal year.

The country imported goods worth 89.48 billion NPR from India, while the exports stood at 16.86 billion NPR, as against 56.39 billion NPR and 6.31 billion NPR over the same period of last fiscal year.

As to China, Nepal’s imports and exports grew to 209.70 billion NPR and 82.78 million NPR from 111.78 billion NPR and 56.01 million NPR, respectively.

Nepal was facing a trade deficit of 70.59 per cent during the period.

“If the trade deficit widens in the same way, it will mount pressure on the foreign exchange reserves of the country,” Nara Bahadur Thapa, former executive director of Nepal Rastra Bank, the country’s central bank told Xinhua.

–IANS

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