Strategically located between economic powerhouses China and India, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal shipped an estimated US$738.9 million worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects an -18% drop since 2013 and a -0.3% downtick from 2017 to 2018.
In addition, Nepal furnished an estimated $2.1 billion worth of international services during 2018 encompassing about $774.6 million from travel-related services.
Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Nepal’s exported goods plus services represent approximately 9.8% of total Nepalese economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.
The latest available country-specific data 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 (1.32%), Japan (1.3%), Canada (1.11%) and United Arab Emirates (1.09%).
Given Nepal’s population of 29.7 million people, its total $738.9 million in 2018 exports translates to roughly $25 for every resident in the South Asian country.
The unemployment rate for the landlocked central Himalayan country was 3.5% at September 2019, as forecast by Trading Economics.
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 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Nepal.
- Manmade staple fibers: US$87.9 million (11.9% of total exports)
- Textile floor coverings: $86.9 million (11.8%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $47.6 million (6.4%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $44.8 million (6.1%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $44.7 million (6.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $41.9 million (5.7%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $37.9 million (5.1%)
- Iron, steel: $36.4 million (4.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $35.6 million (4.8%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $32.6 million (4.4%)
Nepal’s top 10 exports account for roughly two-thirds (66.1%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Beverages, spirits and vinegar was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, thanks to a 7,220% gain since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales was plastics and plastic articles which rose in value by 405.2%.
Nepal’s shipments of knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 111.5%.
The leading decliner among Nepal’s top 10 export categories was coffee, tea and spices via its -39.5% drop.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, yarn made from synthetic staple fibers represent Nepal’s most valuable exported product at 11.3% of the country’s total. In second place was textile floor coverings including carpets (9.8%) trailed by non-alcoholic drinks excluding water, juices or milk (5.9%), nutmeg, mace and cardamoms (5%), miscellaneous plastic items (4.1%), synthetic yarn woven fabrics (3%), packing sacks or bags (also 3.) shawls and scarves: (2.9%), iron or non-alloy steel wire (2.6%) then knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (2.2%).
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.
- Textile floor coverings: US$81 million (Up by 30.6% since 2017)
- Paper yarn, woven fabric: $18.7 million (Up by 486.1%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $13.1 million (Up by 109.1%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $11.5 million (Down by -27.6%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $6.6 million (Down by -11.2%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $5.9 million (Up by 1,983%)
- Vegetable plaiting materials: $5.5 million (Down by -38.8%)
- Woodpulp: $5.4 million (Down by -18.9%)
- Lead: $2 million (Up by 4,686%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $1.8 million (Reversing a -$54.4 million deficit)
Nepal has highly positive net exports in the international trade of carpets and other textile floor coverings. In turn, these cashflows indicate Nepal’s strong competitive advantages under the textile floor coverings category.
Nepal incurred an overall -$9.5 billion trade deficit for 2018, up by 1.9% from -$9.3 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$1.7 billion (Up by 13.9% since 2017)
- Iron, steel: -$1.2 billion (Up by 30.9%)
- Machinery including computers: -$923.9 million (Up by 1.3%)
- Vehicles: -$776.7 million (Up by 8.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$603.1 million (Down by -7.5%)
- Gems, precious metals: -$487.8 million (Up by 32.9%)
- Cereals: -$391.2 million (Down by -4.5%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$322.7 million (Up by 50%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$263.9 million (Up by 14.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$224.7 million (Down by -37.4%)
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)
Nepal’s capital city is Kathmandu.
See also Nepal’s Top Trading Partners, Top Asian Export Countries and India’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 10, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 10, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Nepal. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Wikipedia, Nepal. Accessed on September 10, 2019