Earnings from listed products down 18 percent as virus crushes exportsShipments during the first 11 months of the fiscal year were valued at Rs 17.83 billion.
Export revenues from listed products contracted by 17.57 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of the fiscal year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that triggered worldwide border restrictions and flight suspensions from March.
Shipments of products named in the Nepal Trade Integrated Strategy during the period mid-July to mid-June were valued at Rs17.83 billion, down from Rs21.63 billion during the same period in the previous fiscal.
Sharad Bikram Rana, executive director of the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, said that the plunge in exports was a result of trade restrictions that continued for three months.
Nepal imposed a complete lockdown including border restrictions and flights suspensions since March 24.
“The export scenario was on track for eight to nine months, then the lockdown following the virus outbreak created havoc in Nepal’s trade,” Rana told the Post.
Covid-19 caseloads were on the rise in the European and American markets which are Nepal’s key markets for NTIS products, he said.
Production also fell in the last three months as factories closed, raw materials became short and workers returned to their villages, said traders.
Rana said that the Trade and Export Promotion Centre would be conducting a micro-study on diversifying markets for Nepali exportable goods and identifying potential markets for them in the post-pandemic situation.
The current standstill has created an opportunity to expand the market as it will take some time to revive the economy that has been badly hit in the major importing countries, he added.
The centre is also planning to conduct orientation and training programmes post-Covid-19 to help enhance productivity.
Exports of cardamom, pashmina, tea, ginger, medicinal and aromatic plants, fabric, textile, yarn and rope, carpet and footwear dropped during the first 11 months of the fiscal year.
Cardamom shipments declined by 13.6 percent to Rs3.46 billion from Rs4 billion in the same period last year.
Nirmal Bhattarai, immediate past president of the Large Cardamom Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal, said that the lockdown occurred during the main export season resulting in a sharp reduction in shipments.
Exports of pashmina decreased by 11.3 percent year-on-year to Rs1.54 billion during the review period from Rs1.74 billion. Pashmina traders said that they were flooded with order cancellations from key buyers in the international markets this year.
Tea exports saw a steep drop of 28 percent to Rs2 billion. Shipments in the first 11 months of the previous year were worth Rs2.89 billion.
Deepak Khanal, director and spokesperson for the National Tea and Coffee Development Board, said that tea exports declined steeply due to Covid-19 as exports were virtually halted for three months from March.
India also briefly stopped exports of Nepali tea to third countries via India.
Textile shipments fell by 15 percent to Rs2.64 billion in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year from Rs3.10 billion in the same period in the last fiscal year. The industry incurred heavy losses in the last two years for lack of government support, said the Nepal Textile Industries Association.
The government’s unfavourable policy has discouraged the domestic textile industry, said Shailendra Lal Pradhan, president of the association.
Carpet shipments fell 18.6 percent to Rs5.50 billion in the first 11 months compared to Rs6.76 billion in the same period in the last fiscal year. Ginger exports during the review period were down by 13.40 percent to Rs365 million from Rs421 million in the previous year.
The export of footwear decreased by 14.7 percent to Rs746 million from Rs875 million.
Exports of medicinal herbs declined by 1.80 percent year-on-year to Rs1.34 billion from Rs1.36 million. Leather exports plunged by 65 percent to Rs158 million in the first 11 months of this fiscal year from Rs462 million in the same period in the last fiscal year.