About 11 months have passed since the emergence of the coronavirus disease in Wuhan City of China. The virus-induced lockdowns and other restrictions have had an unparalleled impact on the global economy. Since the pandemic has spread as rapidly as a wildfire globally, the entire production system has remained stagnated and the supply chain disrupted. This has left millions of people jobless across the world. As projected by scientists, several European countries have now experienced second wave of the contagion and they have reintroduced lockdowns to contain it. The comeback of the potentially deadly virus disease in Europe and some other parts of the world might exacerbate their economic condition. The country's economy is now in the doldrums as the COVID-19 pandemic has battered most of the economic sectors, including the susceptible tourism industry. However, Nepal's foreign trade has kept showing some signs of improvement even in the difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a news report carried by this daily on Sunday, the country's export-import ratio reduced in the first three months (mid-July to mid-October) of the current fiscal year. The export-import share fell to 1:9.4 during the review period as compared to 1:12.3 in the same period last year. It is also worth mentioning that the total volume of export increased considerably to Rs. 31.05 billion. The data maintained by the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC) shows that the amount is 14.3 per cent higher than last year’s Rs. 27.2 billion. This is certainly an encouraging trend.
The country had also seen momentous progress in its foreign trade trajectory in the first three months of the last fiscal year (2019/20) as well. The country's exports increased to Rs. 27.2 billion as compared to the previous fiscal year’s Rs. 23.7 billion. However, the import trade decreased remarkably during the review period. The nation imported goods worth Rs. 292.2 billion in the first three months of the current fiscal year which is down by 12.7 per cent of the last fiscal year’s Rs. 334.9 billion. It means that the country's trade deficit has decreased by 15.1 per cent during this fiscal year. As an agricultural economy, Nepal's export is mainly dominated by agro-based and agro products. As per the statistics of the Department of Customs, agro products made up about 51.3 per cent while agro-based ones accounted for about 35.1 per cent of the total exported items.
An equally interesting aspect is that exports by the small and medium enterprises covered 38.6 per cent and others 10.1 per cent. Soybean oil was a major product to increase the country's total export trade volume. The country exported this product worth Rs. 7.6 billion during the current fiscal year as compared to the last year's Rs. 1.47 billion. Besides, tea, woolen carpet, yarn, jute and its products, readymade garments, cardamom, felt products and juices are other exportable products of Nepal while the country imports iron and steel, petroleum products, machinery and parts, vehicles, cereals and electronic equipment. Some additional efforts must be made to push the export trade to minimise the country's trade deficit with many countries.