A9-member Bangladeshi delegation led by Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Mahbub Ahmed met with the Bhutanese delegation led by Secretary, MoEA, Dasho Sonam Tshering for a two- day annual consultation meeting on trade and transit, held on April 9 at Taj Tashi in Thimphu.
The meeting explored ways to further facilitate and promote the smooth flow of trade and transit between the two countries. The meeting discussed points on hydro power, information related to foreign investment, cooperation between trade associations of Bangladesh and Bhutan, and to enhance the tourism sector and renewable of trade agreement.
The MoEA Secretary, Dasho Sonam Tshering, said Bangladesh is one of Bhutan’s largest trading partners and progress on economic and political fronts have been made to ensure the good relations. “We essentially focus on primary sector. Many of our products (for export) are agricultural and natural resources base type of products,” added the MoEA Secretary. Bhutan imports the products required for manufacturing sectors from Bangladesh.
The MoEA Secretary said that Bhutan is hopeful that annual dialogues with Bangladesh will help build closer ties and economic integration.
The MoC Secretary of Bangladesh,Mahbub Ahmed said the bilateral trade remains low and there are scopes to increase the volume of trade. “Which countries can export or import more is not very important to develop the relationship between the two countries. The most important is the volume of trade,” said the MoC Secretary of Bangladesh.
“We had taken decisions to form three working committees in last meeting, banking, liberalizing and transit. I am happy to know that the three committees are working,” he added.
Mahbub Ahmed said that Bangladesh is interested on increasing trade with Bhutan. He stated that the two countries can also find different areas of cooperation. “Unless we can diversify the tradable products that expand the areas of cooperation between two countries, the volume of trade will hardly be exposed,” he added.
Mahbub Ahmed also raised the viability of trade in hydropower, development of tourism and a regional trade corporation to enhance bilateral trade.
Bangladesh is an important trading partner for Bhutan. The highest trade figure between the two countries stood at Nu 1,453 .46mn in 2012. For the same year, Bhutan’s total export to Bangladesh was Nu 1,172.17mn, while total import from Bangladesh was Nu 281.29mn.
The Commerce Secretary level meeting concluded on April 10.The last meeting was held in Dhaka in March 20-21, 2013.