Bhutan in the 21st century is an integral component in the South Asian trade and commerce machinery. Bhutan’s trade, exports and imports industry has flourished during the 8th and 9th five-year plan, and is slowly but surely making its mark on the SAARC economy. Bhutan predominantly had trading relations with India after the 1960 ban on Tibet. In 2002, India built the second hydroelectric project in Bhutan, and thereafter dominated about 90% of the nation’s exports. However, imports have diversified into Egypt and Latin America since. Bhutan imports crude marbles from Egypt, vegetable products from Brazil, copper wires from Cyprus and medical equipment from Finland, to name a few. In 2007, cars were imported from Kuwait and cell phones were imported from Sudan.
Bhutan Trade, Bhutan Exports, Bhutan Imports
According to trade records, 2007 saw a significant surge in imports and exports, as compared to 2006. Bhutan’s trade with India, in terms of imports and exports, increased by 16.13% and 33.49%, respectively. Bhutan’s import from third world countries increased by 11.55%, while the exports grew by 19.9%. The value of import trade in electricity in 2007 stood at Nu 21.74 billion, while export value stood at Nu 27.86 billion. Cars, crude oil and machinery were the top imports of the year 2007. The top exports that year included electricity, software, cables and vegetable oils.
The total exports of Bhutan came in at $513 million in 2008. In the same year, the nation’s biggest partners were India and Bangladesh, and to an extent, Italy. Imports in 2008 stood at $533 million, marking a significant increase from the 2006 figures when the imports came in at $320 million. Bhutan’s main import partners were India (63%), Japan (12.3%) and China (5.1%).
According to industry trade experts, trade between India and Bhutan is expected to grow by 15% in 2009-2010. Between Q209-Q409, Bhutan’s imports from India stood at $81 million, while exports were at $119 million. The main areas of trade were identified as power, roads and health. Other key areas identified included tourism, environment management, horticulture, automobiles and agro processing.
As of January 2010, a new trade route has been opened through the state of Meghalaya, India, to facilitate trade between Bhutan and Bangladesh.