Kathmandu– Nepal’s trade deficit crossed the $10 billion mark for the first time in the last fiscal year 2017-18, that concluded in mid-July, due to surging imports against sluggish exports, Nepal’s Department of Customs (DoC) said on Monday.

According to the statistics released by the DoC, trade deficit of the Himalayan country reached $10.55 billion in fiscal 2017-18.

The deficit more than doubled in just five years. In fiscal 2013-14, Nepal witnessed trade deficit of $4.87 billion, Xinhua reported.

Nepal’s imports almost doubled in the last five years while exports grew slightly during the same period, contributing to the widening trade deficit.

Nepal’s imports surged to $11.28 billion in fiscal 2017-18 from $5.57 billion in fiscal 2013-14 while exports grew to $737.56 million from $703.14 million during the same period.

Former Nepali Commerce Secretary Purusottam Ojha said that Nepal’s failure to produce adequate agriculture and manufacturing products was mainly responsible for the stagnant exports.

“On the other hand, the government is more liberal on imports because it is heavily depended on import-driven revenues,” he said.

Nepal has the largest trade deficit with India followed by China, the two largest trading partners and neighbours of the Himalayan country, according to the DoC. (IANS)