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Nepal being an agricultural country largely depends upon India for the supply of foods and commodities. Rice is one of the major staple food crops in Nepal, but it is still being imported from India, as the production is less than the demand. The retail sector in Nepal is highly fragmented. Approximately 80.26 percent of population live in rural areas (according to 2018 Statista), who are highly dependent upon the traditional family-run small stores with limited selection of products where the use of credit purchase is applicable. While the consumers in urban areas have access to supermarkets and convenience stores with high variety of options. Surface access within the country is difficult and market access is a challenge. Poor infrastructure and high transportation costs negatively impacts the price of local food crops and imported goods especially in mid and high mountain region.

The top export destinations of Nepal are India, United States, Turkey, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Italy, France, Bangladesh, Japan, Canada and United Arab Emirates.

The top imports are from fellow Asian countries and smaller percentages comes from Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa and Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand.

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Nepal’s import purchases during 2019. Below represents the percentage share of each product category in terms of overall imports into Nepal.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.9 billion (19.3% of total imports)
  2. Iron, steel: $983.8 million (10.2%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $831.4 million (8.6%)
  4. Electrical machinery, equipment: $821.2 million (8.5%)
  5. Vehicles: $657.9 million (6.8%)
  6. Cereals: $396.3 million (4.1%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $293.3 million (3%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: $237.1 million (2.4%)
  9. Gems, precious metals: $187.6 million (1.9%)
  10. Articles of iron or steel: $176.8 million (1.8%)

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Nepalese global shipments during 2018. Below represents the percentage share of each product category in terms of overall exports from Nepal.

  1. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: US$242.4 million (24.7% of total exports)
  2. Manmade staple fibres: $87.5 million (8.9%)
  3. Textile floor coverings: $82.9 million (8.5%)
  4. Coffee, tea, spices: $45.6 million (4.7%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $43.2 million (4.4%)
  6. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $42.8 million (4.4%)
  7. Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $42.5 million (4.3%)
  8. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $39.9 million (4.1%)
  9. Paper yarn, woven fabric: $34.8 million (3.5%)
  10. Iron, steel: $32.7 million (3.3%)

(Source: Nepal’s Top 10 Imports and Nepal’s Top 10 Exports)