Special economic zone, medical education, and capacity-building initiatives, among others

Dechen Dolkar

Bhutan has announced plans to set up a special economic zone in the Kurigram district, located in the northern region of Bangladesh. The agreement, formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was signed yesterday during the State Visit of His Majesty The King and The Gyaltsuen to Bangladesh.

Media reports indicate that the Embassy of Bhutan in Bangladesh has sent a formal letter to the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), expressing interest in acquiring appropriate land for establishing an economic zone in the northern region of the country.

As per the media report, under the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), Bangladesh has agreed to allocate 190 acres of land in Kurigram for the establishment of a special economic zone intended for Bhutanese investors.

Two more Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed between Bhutan and Bangladesh. One focuses on cooperation for establishing a burn and plastic surgery unit in Thimphu, while the other pertains to health cooperation. Another MoU was inked between the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority of Bhutan and the Directorate of National Consumers Rights Protection of Bangladesh.

Bhutan and Bangladesh renewed their agreement on cultural cooperation. The Joint statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade highlights several key areas of cooperation between Bhutan and Bangladesh. Firstly, both sides are pleased with the gradual increase in the annual intake of Bhutanese students admitted to MBBS programs in public medical colleges in Bangladesh. 

To further strengthen this cooperation, Bangladesh has offered to raise the number of annual MBBS seats for Bhutanese students from 22 to 30.

Moreover, there is a shared commitment to enhancing capacity building among government officials from both countries. In line with this, Bangladesh has agreed to allocate two seats annually to Bhutanese Foreign Service Officers at the Foreign Service Academy of Bangladesh, which serves as the Diplomatic Training Institute. 

Bangladesh has also expressed readiness to assist Bhutan in establishing its diplomatic training institute, reflecting a deeper level of collaboration.

Furthermore, Bangladesh has extended its support by offering special training opportunities to Bhutanese officials at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC). This initiative aims to enhance knowledge and expertise in agriculture-related fields.

In a gesture of goodwill and friendship, Bangladesh has also provided electronic devices such as tablets and laptops, manufactured domestically, to aid in the capacity building and skill development of Bhutanese government officials.