KATHMANDU, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Nepal's imports declined for two consecutive months of the current fiscal year that began in mid-July, in a reversal of several years of surging imports, Nepal's central bank data said.
Nepal's imports in the first month of this fiscal decreased by 11.5 percent while the imports declined by 1.2 percent during the first two months, according to central bank data released this week.
The Himalayan country imported goods worth two billion U.S. dollars in the first two months this year compared to 2.03 billion U.S. dollars during the same period last fiscal.
Earlier, Nepal's overall imports declined in fiscal year 2001-02 when the country saw drop in imports by 7.2 percent, according to Nepali central bank's data. However, there is fluctuation in Nepal's exports.
"It is remarkable that there has been a break in prolonged surge in imports," former Commerce Secretary of Nepali government Purusottam Ojha told Xinhua on Wednesday. "It is welcome news for the country as we are facing widening trade deficit."
Nepal's economy is heavily dependent on imports. Nepali experts and officials said that Nepal being able to end load shedding was owing to discouraging import of fuel, vehicles, gold and self-sufficiency products such as cement.
For example, import of petroleum products -- diesel, petrol, kerosene, aviation turbine fuel and liquefied petroleum gas, declined by eight percent during the first two months of this fiscal, according to statistics from Nepal Rastra Bank.
As petroleum products top the import list, a decline in the import of these products contributed to the overall decline in imports of the Himalayan country. As of last fiscal year, the petroleum products occupied 15 percent of total imports.
"The country becoming load shedding free is one of the main reasons behind why import of petroleum products decreased," Sushil Bhattarai, deputy managing director of the Nepal Oil Corporation, the oil monopoly of Nepal, told Xinhua on Friday. "Another reason is slackness in implementing the construction project due to prolonged period of monsoon which created less than anticipated demands of petroleum products."
According to Bhattarai, the corporation used to sell a significant chuck of diesel to a number of industries to run diesel plants to produce electricity for running industry until last year.
Likewise, data from Trade and Export Promotion, a government body responsible for trade promotion, showed that the import of gold, one of the top import items, declined by 99.3 percent during the first two months of this fiscal as demand dampened in the domestic market due to increased price of the metal in the recent months.
"Nepal has been failing to boost exports due to limited exportable products and low competitiveness," former government Secretary Ojha said.
"But, there is enough space to substitute imports by taking actions like encouraging the use of electrical products to discourage fuel imports further and increasing production of agriculture products," Ojha added.