Thukten Zangpo

Import prices of goods were 18.05 percent higher in 2021 over the figure in the same quarter of the previous year, according to a report National Statistics Bureau released recently.

The import price index was recorded at 4.27 percent in 2020. The import prices have been increasing over the years.

Eighty percent of goods were imported from India and the rest from other countries. 

The high price was mainly caused by increasing metals and metal articles prices with more than 40 percent increase. 

Similarly, mineral products, cement, and electricity also recorded an increase of 35.25 percent. 

Food and beverages imports were expensive by 10.73 percent and chemicals, plastics, textiles, and apparel by 28.86 percent. 

“The ferrous product was the main contributor to the increase in metal and metal articles while an increase in fuel prices led to the increase for the mineral group,” according to the report. 

Bhutan imported Nu 6.5 billion (B) worth of base metals and articles of base metal in 2021. 

The prices of petrol and diesel saw an increase by more than 20 percent in 2021.

Economists say that the rise in good prices was mainly caused by disruptions in global supply chains, a rise in fuel prices, and higher consumer spending in the economic recovery phase since the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the export prices of goods increased by 27.26 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year.

Ninety percent of the increase in export prices was dictated by the price of ferrosilicon. According to the report, the ferrosilicon price increased by 123 percent in December last year, the highest since 2014.

The average unit price for a kg of ferrosilicon increased to Nu 122.13 last year.

Ferrosilicon is still the top commodity Bhutan exported in 2021 with Nu 15.28B.

Similarly, the export prices for the chemicals, plastics, textile, and apparel group recorded the second-highest increase by 41.96 percent.

However, the export prices for food and beverages saw a decline of 3.10 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year.

The terms of trade recorded an improvement of 7.81 percent in 2021 from the previous year. An increase in terms of trade means more quantity of imports that can be funded by a fixed quantity of exports while a decrease in terms of trade means a smaller quantity of imports can be funded by a fixed quantity of exports. 

Bhutan imported Nu 90.22B worth of goods in 2021 and exported Nu 57.99B worth of goods including electricity.