Nepal has used a series of five-year plans in an attempt to make progress in economic development. It completed its ninth economic development plan in 2002; its currency has been made convertible, and 17 state enterprises have been privatized. Foreign aid accounts for more than half of the development budget. Government priorities over the years have been the development of transportation and communication facilities, agriculture, and industry. Since 1975, improved government administration and rural development efforts have been emphasized.
Agriculture remains Nepal's principal economic activity, employing 80% of the population and providing 37% of GDP. Only about 20% of the total area is cultivable; another 33% is forested; most of the rest is mountainous. Rice and wheat are the main food crops. The lowland Terai region produces an agricultural surplus, part of which supplies the food-deficient hill areas.
Economic development in social services and infrastructure has made progress. A countrywide primary education system is under development, and Tribhuvan University has several campuses. Although eradication efforts continue, malaria had been controlled in the fertile but previously uninhabitable Terai region in the south. Kathmandu is linked to India and nearby hill regions by road and an expanding highway network. The capital was almost out of fuel and transport of supplies caused by a crippling general strike in southern Nepal on February 17 2008.
Major towns are connected to the capital by telephone and domestic air services. The export-oriented carpet and garment industries have grown rapidly in recent years and together now account for approximately 70% of merchandise exports.
Strong export performance, including earnings from tourism, and external aid have helped improve the overall balance-of-payments situation and increase international reserves. Nepal receives substantial amounts of external assistance from India, the People's Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. Several multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the UN Development Programme also provide assistance. In June 1998, Nepal submitted its memorandum on a foreign trade regime to the World Trade Organization and in May 2000 began direct negotiations on its accession.
The environmental impact of Nepal's hydroelectric projects has been limited by the fact that most are "run-of-river" with only one storage project undertaken to date. The largest under active consideration is the private sector West Seti (750 MW) storage project which is dedicated to exports. Negotiations with India for a power purchase agreement have been underway for several years, but agreement on pricing and capital financing remains a problem. Currently demand for electricity is increasing at 8%-10% a year.
Population pressure on natural resources is increasing. Over-population is already straining the "carrying capacity" of the middle hill areas, particularly the Kathmandu Valley, resulting in the depletion of forest cover for crops, fuel, and fodder and contributing to erosion and flooding. Although steep mountain terrain makes exploitation difficult, mineral surveys have found small deposits of limestone, magnesite, zinc, copper, iron, mica, lead, and cobalt.
Nepal is the largest mustard market in Asia.
|Year||Gross Domestic Product|
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,400 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
services: 40% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line: 42% (1995-96 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 29.8% (1995-96)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.9% (2002 est.)
Labour force: 10 million (1996 est.)
note: severe lack of skilled labour
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 81%, services 16%, industry 3%
Unemployment rate: 47% (2001 est.)
revenues: $665 million
expenditures: $1.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY 99/00 est.)
Industrial production growth rate: 8.7% (FY 99/00)
Electricity - production: 1,755 GWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 8.5%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 1,764 GWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 95 GWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 227 GWh (2001)
Oil - production: 0 barrel/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 16,000 barrel/day (2,500 m³/d) 2001
Exports: $568 million f.o.b., but does not include unrecorded border trade with India (2002 est.)
Imports: $1.419 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Debt - external: $2.7 billion (2001)
Economic aid - recipient: $424 million (FY 00/01)
Currency: 1 Nepalese rupee (NPR) = 100 paisa
Exchange rates: Nepalese rupees (NPR) per USD$1 - 64.20 (2007), 78.88 (2002), 74.95 (2001), 68.253 (1999), 65.976 (1998), 58.010 (1997), 56.692 (1996), 51.890 (1995)