Excluding trade in electricity, the deficit would have been Nu 44.6B
BTS: The country experienced a trade deficit of more than Nu 32.8B last year, registering a record high deficit in the last five years.
Compared with 2014, trade deficit widened by about Nu 11.6B, Bhutan Trade Statistics revealed.
Trade deficit is an economic condition that occurs when a country is importing more goods than it is exporting. The deficit is determined by subtracting the value of goods imported from value of goods exported.
Had it not been for the electricity exports, the country could have felt a deficit of Nu 44.6B last year. In 2014 trade deficit without the electricity export came to Nu 31.6B.
India alone accounted for a trade deficit of Nu 21.9B, compared with Nu 16B in 2014.
While exports grew marginally from Nu 31B to around Nu 35B in the last five years, value of imports shot up by more than Nu 20B taking the total exports last year to Nu 68B. Country’s top export, electricity has however been constant more or less (between Nu 9B and Nu 12B).
The energy trade, on the other hand registered a surplus of around Nu 4.9B last year. The surplus has improved in comparison with 2014 because of improved power generation.
Bhutan exported Nu 12.1B of electricity to India but the country has also imported Nu 6.95B worth of fuel last year. During lean season when water discharge in the rivers drops, the country had to import Nu 249M worth of electricity from India.
Since the value of energy exported exceeds the value of energy imported, Bhutan’s energy trade balance recorded a surplus.
But after deducting for the hydropower loan repayment of approximately Nu 3B annually, the surplus is not substantial.
A local economist said that when the economic activities in the country are picking up and construction of hydropower is in full swing, the trade deficit is expected to widen. He added that with the lifting of credit and import restrictions, people are purchasing more vehicles and construction sector is back on the track. These factors, he said could have contributed to the deficit.
While diesel remained the top import at Nu 5.2B, airplane and other aircraft is the second highest import at Nu 3.4B. This could be attributed to the arrival of Drukair’s new aircraft last year and the procurement of a government helicopter. The figure also included import of parts and accessories for aircraft.
The country also imported more than Nu 1B worth of meat, Nu 322M of fishes and Nu 1.39B of dairy products.
At Nu 6.9B, ferro-silicon is still Bhutan’s top export after electricity. Cement is also one of the top export commodities. Last year the country exported cement worth Nu 1.6B. Cardamom is the only food commodity that comes in the top 10 export. Bhutan exported Nu 940M worth of cardamoms.
Besides India, France, Japan, Singapore and China are top countries from where Bhutan imported goods. India, Bangladesh, Netherlands, USA, Germany and Singapore are top five countries where Bhutan’s export value is substantial.