Strategically located between economic powerhouses China and India, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal shipped an estimated US$979.8 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 48.4% increase since 2015 and a 26.6% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
The latest available country-specific data from 2017 shows that 92.6% of products exported from Nepal were bought by importers in: India (56.7% of the global total), United States (11.2%), Turkey (6.4%), Germany (3.9%), United Kingdom (3.4%), China (3%), Italy (1.6%), France (1.5%), Bangladesh (1.3%), Japan (also 1.3%), Canada (1.1%) and the United Arab Emirates (also 1.1%).
Given Nepal’s population of 28.6 million people, its total $979.8 million in 2019 exports translates to roughly $35 for every resident in the South Asian country.
Nepal’s Top 10 Exports
At the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, the following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Nepalese global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Nepal.
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: US$242.4 million (24.7% of total exports)
- Manmade staple fibers: $87.5 million (8.9%)
- Textile floor coverings: $82.9 million (8.5%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $45.6 million (4.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $43.2 million (4.4%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $42.8 million (4.4%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $42.5 million (4.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $39.9 million (4.1%)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $34.8 million (3.5%)
- Iron, steel: $32.7 million (3.3%)
Nepal’s top 10 exports accounted for 70.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 1,008% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was paper yarn and woven fabric via a 36.7% gain. Nepal’s shipments of miscellaneous textiles and worn clothing posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 11%.
The leading decliner among Nepal’s top 10 export categories was unknitted and non-crocheted clothing and accessories thanks to a -10.9% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, palm oil represents Nepal’s most valuable exported product at 19.3% of the country’s total. In second place was yarn made from synthetic staple fibers (8.3%) trailed by textile floor coverings including carpets (6.9%), soya-bean oil (5.4%), non-alcoholic drinks excluding water, juices or milk (4.2%) and miscellaneous plastic items (3.4%).
The following types of Nepalese product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: US$223 million (Reversing a -$297.2 million deficit in 2018)
- Textile floor coverings: $78.6 million (Down by -3.3% since 2018)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $22.3 million (Up by 19.6%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $15.6 million (Up by 32.2%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $14.8 million (Up by 755.1%)
- Vegetable plaiting materials: $4 million (Down by -29%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $3.6 million (Down by -46.2%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $3.1 million (Down by -76.5%)
- Lead: $2.4 million (Up by 17.9%)
- Woodpulp: $1.9 million (Down by -64.6%)
Nepal has highly positive net exports in the international trade of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes as well as carpets and other textile floor coverings. In turn, these cashflows indicate Nepal’s strong competitive advantages under both product categories.
Nepal incurred an overall -$8.7 billion trade deficit for 2019, down by -8.1% from -$9.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Nepal that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Nepal’s goods trail Nepalese importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US-$1.8 billion (Up by 5.3% since 2018)
- Iron, steel: -$951.1 million (Down by -20.1%)
- Machinery including computers: -$827.4 million (Down by -10.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$818.2 million (Up by 35.4%)
- Vehicles : -$657.6 million (Down by -14.7%)
- Cereals: -$396.1 million (Up by 1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$250.1 million (Up by 8.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$228.8 million (Down by -12.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$180.4 million (Down by -63%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$170.1 million (Up by 32.3%)
Nepal has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related category. Notable loss leaders among these energy products are refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.
Nepalese Export Companies
Not one Nepalese corporation ranks among the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Nepal. Selected examples are shown below.
- Chaudhary Group (conglomerate)
- Citizens Bank International (commercial bank)
- Deurali-Janta Pharmaceuticals (drugs and medicines)
- Giribandhu Tea Estate (beverages)
- Hulas Motors (vehicles)
- IME Group (conglomerate)
- Krishna Pauroti (bakery)
- Nepal Oil Corporation (oil, gas)
One key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Nepal’s average unemployment rate was 3.4% for 2019 per the International Monetary Fund.
Nepal’s capital city is Kathmandu.
See also Nepal’s Top 10 Imports, Top Asian Export Countries and India’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 3, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Nepal. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Nepal. Accessed on June 3, 2020
WorldOMeter, Nepal Population. Accessed on June 3, 2020