Thukten Zangpo 

The Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is exploring ways to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) in 15 potential sectors. 

Its President, Tandy Wangchuk said that the chamber has identified FDIs in hydrogen fuel, ammonia gas, the tourism sector, strategic minerals, organic agriculture, hydroponics, wood-based industry, high-end diagnostic, charcoal plant, and high-end education system targeting international students. 

“We are hopeful to bring in potential investors for at least 5-6 projects,” Tandy Wangchuk said, adding that Finnfund, members of Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce, and the Board of Trade of Thailand have shown keen interest in investing. 

He also urged the Bhutanese interested entrepreneurs to take up the 20 potential businesses below Nu 10 million (M), which the chamber has done a thorough study.

Bhutan was not able to attract FDI projects at par or above the pre-pandemic level. Last year, the country was only able to attract eight FDI projects—six in service and two in the manufacturing sector worth Nu 356.29M. With this, it marked a total of 101 FDI projects worth Nu 43.62 billion (B). 

In 2018, the country received the highest, 16 FDIs worth Nu 6.78B. While 12 projects worth Nu 1.17B in 2019 and 10 projects worth Nu 2.1B were approved in 2020.  

India is the major source of investment in Bhutan with a 51 percent share followed by Singapore (15 percent) and Thailand (10 percent).

For the private sector growth, Tandy Wangchuk said that lack of coordination among agencies and multiple mismatches of policies are the biggest hurdles.

The chamber will also conduct its 35th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on September 8 this year in Thimphu. The meeting will discuss updates on the monthly last Friday meeting with the Prime Minister. 

Tandy Wangchuk also said that the members will share the benefits and outcomes of various memorandum of understanding (MoU), and the positive impact of the MoU. 

The chamber has signed MoU with the Council for Promotion of Trade and Industry, India, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce and Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services.

The AGM will present the activity report of the past year and seek endorsement of its annual programme and budget for the forthcoming year. Besides, AGM also serves as a platform to deliberate on issues associated with the dzongkhag business development committee (DBDC) for dialogue with the government.

There will also be a discussion on the membership fee to be revised to Nu 1,500 from Nu 3,000 per year.

The general body members of the executive committee and the DBDC representatives from all 20 dzongkhags will attend the meeting.