Thukten Zangpo

Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) hosted a 15-member delegation from the Austrian Asian African Association (AAAA) and Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade (BWA) yesterday.

The visit was to engage the business delegates with relevant government agencies and the private sector, aiming to establish mutually beneficial b2b relationships and explore trade and investment opportunities.

The 15-member business delegates were from companies in sectors such as tourism, eco-tourism, medical, education and skilling, energy and construction or engineering.

BCCI has identified 12 potential investment opportunities in Bhutan: tourism, renewable energy, agriculture and food processing, medicinal herbs with more than 600 medicinal plant species, minerals, high-end education and skills development, healthcare services, infrastructure development, manufacturing sector, information technology and innovation, hydrogen, and ammonia.

During the event, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment’s Secretary, Tashi Wangmo said that the business delegates have huge potential and opportunity to establish businesses in Bhutan as Bhutan aims to become a high-income country with gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 10 billion by 2034.

By 2034, she said that Bhutan targets to increase foreign direct investments from Nu 43.3 million to Nu 100 billion and to increase private sector investment from 40 percent to 60 percent.

“Private sector has a huge space for its contribution, and if the investment areas and regulations do not fit, the government will review it,” the secretary said.

Since 2010, Bhutan’s average FDI inflow has been less than USD 20 million or less than 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

President of AAAA, Walter Junger said that the association aims to do business at individual to individual level, as part of cultural exchange and is a charitable organisation. The Association has 150 members representing small and medium size businesses in Austria.

Bhutan can attract more than Nu 100 billion FDI by 2034, BCCI’s President, Tandy Wangchuk said. However, he said that investors are reluctant to invest because of no clear FDI policy, economic development policy, and fiscal incentives.

The BCCI chairperson said that there are no proper guidelines on the repatriation of the dividends by the investing companies.

He also suggested that the government should come up with the procedure as soon as the investors come to Bhutan.

“The interested parties can sign the memorandum of understanding during their stay in Bhutan,” he said.