New tran­sit routes to boost trade with In­dia

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Alka Kat­wal

Five new ad­di­tional en­try and exit points for Bhutan’s trade with In­dia were in­cluded in the re­newed bi­lat­eral trade agree­ment be­tween the two coun­tries, which will be pre­sented at the Na­tional As­sem­bly for adop­tion on De­cem­ber 5.

Min­is­ter for Eco­nomic Af­fairs, Lekey Dorji, pre­sented the Agree­ment on Trade, Com­merce and Tran­sit be­tween Bhutan and In­dia at the on­go­ing ses­sion of the As­sem­bly on Novem­ber 30.

The bi­lat­eral agree­ment was first signed

in 1972. This is the fifth time the agree­ment has been re­vised. One new ar­ti­cle has been added to the agree­ment and two ar­ti­cles were re­vised.

In ad­di­tion to the ex­ist­ing 16 en­try and exit points, the five new trade routes will open up trade in goods from Bhutan’s new in­dus­trial zones in Samtse, Sam­drup Jongkhar and Lhamoiz­ingkha in Da­gana, ac­cord­ing to the eco­nomic af­fairs min­is­ter.

“Be­ing a land­locked coun­try, it’s crit­i­cal for us to have ac­cess to the world through fa­vor­able tran­sit ar­range­ments. Bi­lat­eral free trade, tran­sit and com­merce agree­ment be­tween the two coun­tries is the most lib­eral and one of its kind re­flect­ing the close ties of friend­ship,” said Ly­onpo Lekey Dorji.

The pro­to­col to the agree­ment clearly spells out en­try and exit doc­u­men­ta­tion through these tran­sit points so that Bhutanese busi­ness­men and women don’t get ha­rassed due to un­clear rules of pro­ce­dures, added Ly­onpo.

Be­sides the five new tran­sit points, the eco­nomic af­fairs min­is­ter also said many other trade routes are in ad­vanced stages of discussion. One such tran­sit point is at up­per Khogla near Pasakha in­dus­trial area.

“The road be­ing built from the In­dian side will con­nect to a Land Cus­toms Sta­tion (LCS) be­ing planned and will be built in Pasakha. This LCS would free up traf­fic through the main en­try gate­way in Phuentshol­ing to Bhutan,” said Ly­onpo. “The work is un­der process and we hope up­per Khogla tran­sit point would be no­ti­fied soon.”

Fur­ther, the two gov­ern­ments are also ne­go­ti­at­ing Mathanguri tran­sit points among others.

Mean­while, the new ar­ti­cle in the Agree­ment re­quires the com­ple­tion of in­ter­nal rat­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures of both the coun­tries for the Agree­ment to come in to force. Ar­ti­cle 8 which has been re­vised states that both coun­tries would un­der­take mea­sures to en­sure proper doc­u­men­ta­tion of trade data and ex­change trade data pe­ri­od­i­cally and put in place mech­a­nisms to rec­on­cile the same at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

The re­vi­sion of Ar­ti­cle 11 states that there would be no pro­hi­bi­tion im­posed by either coun­try on ex­port of es­sen­tial food items to the other coun­try pro­vided they meet rea­son­able end user re­quire­ment, and the items are iden­ti­fied by mu­tual con­sent and no­ti­fied from time to time. Con­clud­ing the de­lib­er­a­tion on the agree­ment, the House ex­pressed that the Agree­ment would fur­ther ce­ment the friend­ship be­tween Bhutan and In­dia.

Ly­onpo Lekey Dorji and Min­is­ter of State for Com­merce and In­dus­try of In­dia, Nir­mala Sithara­man, signed the Agree­ment on Trade, Com­merce and Tran­sit be­tween the Bhutan and In­dia in Thim­phu on Novem­ber 12, 2016.

The last Agree­ment was re­newed on July 28, 2006 and was valid till July 29, 2016. The va­lid­ity of the Agree­ment was ex­tended for a year or till the date of com­ing into force of the new Agree­ment, which­ever is ear­lier, by ex­change of diplo­matic notes be­tween the coun­tries.

In­dia is Bhutan’s largest trad­ing part­ner. The trade vol­ume be­tween In­dia and Bhutan stood at Nu 85.54bn in 2015, which ac­counts for 83% of Bhutan’s to­tal trade.

The new agree­ment will come into force once the Na­tional Coun­cil rat­i­fies it.

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