Bhutan exported goods worth 48 billion (B) last year, but imported goods worth Nu 67B, according to Bartsham-Shongphu’s Member of Parliament (MP), Passang Dorji (PhD).

The MP questioned the economic affairs minister on the government’s plans to increase exports to generate revenue for the country, address unemployment and achieve economic self-reliance. 

“Today, we export 90 percent to India. Markets have to be diversified. The top 10 export goods are mostly raw materials, such as silicon, stone, and dolomite, which lacks value addition,” the MP said.  

MP also questioned whether the government had framed an exportable goods mapping to attract private investment.  

He cited the example of some Asian economic giants such as Taiwan, Hongkong, Singapore and South Korea, which have a sound export diversifying system. 

However, economic affairs minister, Loknath Sharma, said that understanding the country’s economic condition and resources, export opportunities are less. “Our export is mostly mining and mineral products. “Ferrosilicon, silicon carbide, and cement are value-added products.”  

He also said that starting this year, the non-hydro export decreased by 31 percent. “In 2020, export was increased by two percent, which is mainly due to the Mangdechhu Hydropower Project.”

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said the government was working towards diversifying export. “The government will increase the export of mine and mineral products.”

He said the government is discussing with Bangladesh on the transit of goods agreement. “Waterways are also exploring.” 

The minister said trade information portal was started to understand the possibility of export and five more export items would be explored through Brand Bhutan. “Bhutan would participate in a trade fair other than the SAARC region to introduce our products.”

By Thinley Namgay 

Edited by Tashi Dema