Bhutan- In­dia bi­lat­eral trade and tran­sit talks ex­plore more tran­sit routes

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Pen­jor

To en­hance trade be­tween the two coun­tries by re­mov­ing bot­tle­necks that are im­ped­ing free flow of trade, the bi­lat­eral trade and tran­sit meet­ing be­tween Bhutan and In­dia was held in the cap­i­tal on 25th May 2015.

Dur­ing the meet­ing of­fi­ci­at­ing sec­re­tary of the min­istry of eco­nomic af­fairs Sonam P. Wangdi said the sub­ject mat­ter of the meet­ing was on trade and tran­sit agree­ment which is one of the old­est free trade agree­ments in the world. The agree­ment was signed on Jan­uary 17, 1972 and pre­dates the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion. The agree­ment is truly a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial one that has served the in­ter­est of both our coun­tries.

He fur­ther said that dur­ing the ten­ure of the cur­rent one, in its 4th re­newal avatar, to­tal trade has grown from Nu.22.76 bil­lion in 2005 to Nu.79.65 bil­lion last year, a growth of 250 per­cent. While, the im­ports had grown by 274 per­cent from Nu.12.80 bil­lion to Nu. 47.85 bil­lion. Whereas the ex­ports had grew only 219 per­cent from Nu. 9.97 bil­lion to Nu. 31.80 bil­lion.

The trade bal­ance has al­ways been in fa­vor of In­dia, with Bhutan car­ry­ing a trade deficit of Nu. 16.05 bil­lion last year, a whop­ping 467per­cent since 2005. As a re­sult, Bhutan ex­pe­ri­enced se­vere bal­ance of pay­ment prob­lems since 2012, said the of­fi­ci­at­ing sec­re­tary.

He added that the agree­ment also pro­vides tran­sit pro­vi­sions for Bhutan’s trade with third coun­tries: and ports, air­ports, en­try and exit points, when­ever needed, are iden­ti­fied and no­ti­fied to fa­cil­i­tate trade. We are work­ing on 27 en­try and exit points.

“The an­nual meet­ing was mainly to mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment and re­solve is­sues im­ped­ing trade flows”, he added.

Mr. Ra­jiv Kher, Com­merce Sec­re­tary, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia said that In­dia Bhutan trade re­la­tion­ship was a part of much larger can­vas of two coun­tries re­la­tion­ship and this re­la­tion­ship pro­vides all prospec­tive, all frame­work of bi­lat­eral en­gage­ment which trans­act be­yond typ­i­cal diplo­matic, our re­la­tion­ship within the bond ex­tended by both sides.

He added that the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dia and Bhutan is some­thing which shines as a jewel in the re­gions; we look at this re­la­tion­ship not just as a pure ma­jor of tran­sit­ing goods that hap­pen in any place. The ex­change of goods and ser­vices will hap­pen but hav­ing more im­por­tant is that fa­cil­i­tate and the di­men­sion has to be very strong pro­nounce be­side par­tic­u­larly in the con­text of neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, it is ex­tremely im­por­tant that In­dia’s in­vest­ment are en­cour­age in a man­ner that the trade and in­vest­ment con­nects strengthen and our own value change.

While, the main pur­pose of the talk was to en­hance trade be­tween the two coun­tries by re­mov­ing bot­tle­necks that are im­ped­ing free flow of trade. Among other mat­ters, Bhutan would be seek­ing ad­di­tional en­try/ ex­ist points through In­dia to fa­cil­i­tate Bhutan’s trade with third coun­tries. The last bi­lat­eral trade talk be­tween the two coun­tries was held in the cap­i­tal last year.

In­dia is the largest trad­ing part­ner of Bhutan. To­tal trade in­clud­ing elec­tric­ity be­tween the two coun­tries in­creased from Nu. 38.82 bil­lion in 2008 to Nu. 79.65 bil­lion in 2014, which is a stag­ger­ing 100 per­cent in­crease in the last five years.

Mean­while, last year the to­tal value of im­ports from In­dia was Nu. 47.85 bil­lion and to­tal value of ex­port to In­dia was Nu. 31.80 bil­lion. Bhutan’s ma­jor im­port items from In­dia con­sist of min­eral fu­els and oils, ce­re­als, mo­tor ve­hi­cle and parts, elec­tri­cal ma­chin­ery and iron and steel prod­ucts while elec­tric­ity, cal­cium car­bide, fer­rosil­i­con, semi fin­ished prod­ucts of iron, Port­land ce­ment and dolomite com­prise its main ex­port items to In­dia.

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