Despite the gloomy external trade scenario, the government has again promised to boost exports to up to Rs 100 billion in the current fiscal year by improving production, processing and packaging of agriculture goods.
The country had exported merchandise worth Rs 74.26 billion in the last fiscal year.
"The government has a target to boost exports to over Rs 100 billion in the current fiscal year," said secretary at the Prime Minister's Office and Council of Ministers Krishna Hari Baskota while evaluating the performance of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies.
"We have to lay emphasis on goods featured in Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS)," he said, adding that all the 19 goods and services should add to over Rs one billion.
NTIS has identified seven agricultural, five industrial, and seven service sector goods as export potential, though the government's repeated promise of boosting their exports has fallen flat due to the energy crisis and labour troubles arising from political backing.
"The government is ready to facilitate the export process by simplifying cash incentive, unhindered transportation facility for containers, and attracting investments in the production sector," he said, adding that the agricultural sector has a huge potential for export.
The country has exported ginger worth Rs 280 million, handmade paper (Rs 450 million), honey (Rs 700 million) and herbs (Rs 1.54 billion).
"The government has been trying to improve the quality of items exported to the European and American markets," said secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies Lalmani Joshi. "We are working on to register the trademark of Nepal Tea in the international market," he said, adding that work on eliminating pesticide residue in honey is also ongoing.
The country has to simplify duty draw back facility to promote industrial goods, Joshi added.
Last year, industrial production — iron and steel — worth Rs 10 billion was exported from the country. Similarly, around Rs four billion worth of pashmina was exported, following the registration of the 'Chyangra Pashmina' trademark in 40 countries. "We will soon add seven countries," he said.
The country has also exported musuro pulse worth Rs 3.34 billion, and large cardamom worth Rs 2.21 billion. However, production of cardamom has decreased due to the Chirkephurke disease since a few years back.
Despite the government's repeated efforts, exports have not picked up but at the same time, imports are increasing significantly, widening the trade deficit. The country witnessed merchandise exports of Rs 20.73 billion in the first three months of the current fiscal year, whereas in the same period, the country has imported merchandise worth Rs 136.48 billion resulting in a trade deficit of Rs 115.75 billion.
Fiscal year — Export
2002-03 — Rs 50.01 billion
2003-04 — Rs 53.95 billion
2004-05 — Rs 58.44 billion
2005-06 — Rs 59.78 billion
2006-07 — Rs 58.93 billion
2007-08 — Rs 58.47 billion
2008-09 — Rs 68.60 billion
2009-10 — Rs 60.95 billion
2010-11 — Rs 64.56 billion
2011-12 — Rs 74.26 billion
(Source: Trade and Export Promotion Centre)