India becomes Nepal's key trading partner in South Asia

KATHMANDU: Despite a free trade agreement with South Asian countries, Nepal’s trade with the region except India appears insignificant, statistics from Nepal Trade Promotion Centre (TPC) show.

Trade with India dominated Nepal’s overall foreign trade as India accounted for 93.9 percent of the country’s exports to South Asia and 99.4 percent of imports from the region in the last 2013-14 fiscal year.

Nepal exported goods worth 59.45 billion Nepalese rupees (US$612.8 million) to India last year while exports to the region stood at 63.31 billion rupees (US$652.68 million).

Nepal imported 482.34 billion rupees (US$4.97 billion) worth of goods from India, and imports from South Asian countries (India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan) stood at 485.46 billion rupees (US$5 billion).

Bangladesh is the second largest market for Nepali products in the region with goods worth 2.1 billion rupees (US$20.8 million) exported to that country.

Afghanistan is Nepal’s third largest export destination which accounted for 2.4 percent of the country’s exports to South Asia.

Exports to Afghanistan were valued at 1.52 billion rupees (US$15.67 million) last year.

Nepal exported goods worth 5 million rupees (US$51,546) to the Maldives and 2.5 million rupees (US$25,773) to Sri Lanka, while imports from these two countries remained insignificant.

South Asian countries signed a South Asia Free Trade Area (Safta) agreement in January 2006 to facilitate unrestricted trade among countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region.