Bhutan plans 25% increase in trade with Bangladesh in 2022

The country still enjoys a trade surplus with Bangladesh

While Dhaka signed a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Thimphu last year and the Covid-19 pandemic has improved in recent times, Bhutan is now experiencing a 25% increase in bilateral trade with Bangladesh l ‘next year.

Kencho Thinley, the trade adviser at the Bhutan embassy in Dhaka, expressed this view in an interview with Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.

“With the PTA signed last year and the improvement in the pandemic situation, we expect a 25% increase in bilateral trade with Bangladesh in 2022,” the official said.

Bangladesh has listed 18 products and 16 other products that will soon be submitted to the PTA, while Bhutan has listed 90 products on the list and 10 more in preparation.

Bhutan enjoys a trade surplus with Bangladesh. In 2019, it exported goods worth $ 81.27 million to Bangladesh, while Bangladesh exported goods worth $ 8.33 million to Bhutan.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic hit bilateral trade in 2020, resulting in a drop of almost 35%.

Bhutan exported $ 52.73 million to Bangladesh, while the latter exported goods worth $ 5.87 million.

Read also – Bangladesh signs preferential trade agreement with Bhutan

On December 6, 2020, Bangladesh signed its first trade partnership agreement with Bhutan, which Minister of Commerce Tipu Munshi and Bhutanese Minister of Economic Affairs Lyonpo Loknath Sharma signed on behalf of their respective parties.

The PTA with Bhutan was the first such bilateral agreement signed by Bangladesh with a country since its independence in 1971.

The signing took place on December 6 to mark the day in 1971 when Bhutan was the first country in the world to recognize independence from Bangladesh.

Under the PTA, around 100 Bangladeshi products are granted duty-free access to Bhutan.

These include baby clothes and clothing accessories, men’s pants and shorts, jackets and blazers, jute and jute goods, leather and leather goods, dry battery, fan, watch, potatoes, condensed milk, cement, toothbrush, plywood, chipboard, minerals and sparkling water, green tea, orange juice, juice pineapple and guava juice.

Meanwhile, 34 Bhutanese products benefit from duty-free access to the Bangladeshi market: orange, apple, ginger, fruit juice, milk, natural honey, wheat or meslin flour, homogenized jam preparations, fruit jellies. , marmalades, soy food preparations, minerals water, wheat bran, quartzite, cement clinker, limestone, particle board and wooden furniture.

Both countries will be able to gradually increase the number of articles through consultation.

The bilateral trade volume of the two countries was only $ 12.77 million in FY 2008-09, with Bangladesh’s exports to Bhutan amounting to $ 0.61 million while it imported goods worth $ 12.16 million.

Bilateral trade volume reached $ 49.65 million in FY 2018-19, of which Bangladesh’s exports to Bhutan totaled $ 7.56 million against imports of $ 42.09 million.

Tourism outlook

Regarding the promotion of tourism in Bangladesh, Kencho Thinley said that Bangladesh could attract a good number of Bhutanese tourists by developing and improving Buddhist tourist places.

Bangladesh has been the birthplace of some Buddhist religious leaders who preached the religion in the region, he also said.

Bhutanese officials have also informed that his country is also a popular tourist destination for Bangladeshis.

Some 13,000 Bangladesh visited Bhutan in 2019.

Javed Ahmed, CEO of the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), told Dhaka Tribune that Bangladesh is working hard to promote its Buddhist tour to attract Buddhist tourists.

Read also – Experts welcome ATP signing with Bhutan

The government is building high quality hotels and motels in Bogra and Bagerhat and improving the environment to appeal to Buddhist tourists, he added.

The issue is also discussed regularly at the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) meeting held among Member States: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The issue was also discussed at recent meetings of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in Dhaka.

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