Staff Reporter

Bhutan and Canada held its first biennial consultations yesterday in the capital, Thimphu following the signing of the memorandum of understanding, to establish a bilateral consultation mechanism between the two foreign ministries in December 2018.

During the consultations, the two sides exchanged views on the recent political and economic developments in Bhutan and Canada, discussed bilateral cooperation, cooperation in the United Nations and other multilateral fora, according to a press release from the foreign ministry.

It stated that Bhutan provided briefings on the status of the 12th Plan, the flagship programmes, the revised Foreign Direct Investment Policy and the TVET reform. The two sides also held in-depth discussions on collaboration in the fields of health, sustainable mining and higher education and employment opportunities for Bhutanese in Canada.

Canadian assistance to Bhutan in the past had mainly been in the education sector through the training of Bhutanese teachers and educationists at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). “From education, cooperation between Bhutan and Canada has expanded and now encompasses a wide range of areas,” the press release stated. “Most recently, the Canadian government has added Bhutan on the list of countries eligible for Canadian government scholarships.”

Canada has also been funding projects in various sectors in Bhutan through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives and the Canada-Asia Trade and Investment for Growth Program. Canada and Bhutan are also looking at collaborating on projects through the Pilot Mission Deployment Fund.

The Canadian delegation was led by the Director General, South Asia Bureau, Global Affairs, David Hartman and included Ambassador of Canada to Bhutan, Nadir Patel, among others. The Bhutanese delegation was led by the Director of bilateral affairs department, Sonam Tobgay.

Formal diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Canada was established in June 2003.