Staff Reporter

The 6th Annual Bilateral Consultations between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of Australia took place in Thimphu on Friday, May 19, 2023, marking another milestone in the growing partnership between the two nations.

Chaired by Pema Tshomo, Officiating Director of the Department of Bilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and Ms. Megan Jones, Assistant Secretary of the Indian Ocean and South Asia Regional Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the consultations served as a platform to review ongoing development cooperation programs and explore opportunities for future collaboration.

The discussions centered around key national developments, priorities, and challenges that have emerged since the previous consultations in 2018, providing an avenue for both sides to exchange perspectives and deepen their understanding of each other’s goals and aspirations.

Over the past five years, the bilateral relations between Bhutan and Australia have flourished, marked by significant milestones. In 2021, Bhutan established its tenth overseas mission in Canberra, reflecting the growing importance of the relationship. Furthermore, this year commemorates the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations, a testament to the enduring bond they have fostered. Celebrating this milestone, Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji paid an official visit to Australia in September 2022, marking the first visit by a Bhutanese Foreign Minister in nearly two decades. In a reciprocal gesture, Assistant Foreign Minister Tim Watts visited Bhutan on Monday, May 15, 2023, marking the first high-level ministerial visit from Australia to Bhutan since 1999.

Education and human resource development emerged as prominent areas of focus for Australia’s bilateral development assistance to Bhutan. With the largest Bhutanese community abroad, Australia has become a hub for Bhutanese students, professionals, and individuals seeking new opportunities. The commitment to fostering educational ties has been a cornerstone of the bilateral relationship, with Australia offering valuable support and expertise to Bhutan’s education sector.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Australia on September 14, 2002, laid the foundation for a fruitful partnership that has evolved and deepened over the years. As both nations continue to explore avenues for collaboration, the 6th Annual Bilateral Consultations have set the stage for further advancements in various fields of mutual interest, bolstering the bond between Bhutan and Australia.