Dechen Dolkar | Doha

Bhutan sought partners who want to collaborate and invest in the country once it graduates the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group at the summit of the LDC in Doha last week. 

The fifth United Nations conference on the LDC was preceded by the summit of the LDC, on March 4. The heads of government and the heads of delegation of the LDCs exchanged their views on how they can collectively address shared challenges and come up with meaningful solutions.

Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the 13th Five Year Plan focuses on making Bhutan a high-income nation within a decade. 

He said that Bhutan was looking at genuine collaborations and investments. “In the coming days, I am here to seek suggestions, ideas and proposals that will help Bhutan not just sustain the LDC graduation but achieve mutually benefitting economic goals.”

For Bhutan, her journey towards graduation has been “an enriching one” since 1971. 

Lyonchhen said that under the dynamic leadership of His Majesty The King, Bhutan is set to graduate from the category this year. “Our leaders and predecessors have worked very hard and played their part to build the Bhutan we have today.” 

Lyonchhen said that all LDCs must put in efforts and not rely on the United Nations altogether. “We also know graduation is a reward and not a punishment.”

Lyonchhen said although Bhutan still faces several last-mile challenges that have been further worsened by global disruptions like the pandemic, international conflicts, climate-change hazards and food crisis, Bhutan aspires to graduate from the LDC category.

Since Bhutan has challenges in accessing international markets and participation in global trade and investment opportunities, the country, lyonchhen said, will require the continued specific support of development partners more than ever to ensure that its graduation is sustainable and irreversible.

“We need more targeted interventions for our unique challenges. For instance, policies like India’s “neighbourhood first” have visibly made a difference in taking us on board for important programmes and initiatives,” Lyonchhen said.

He said while Bhutan is thankful for all the support and assistance so far, the final push it receives during the transition period will be critical. “We are as keen to renew and reshape partnerships with all our partners in tune with our emerging needs.”

During the five days of LDC5 conference in Doha, which began yesterday, world leaders will gather with the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians, and young people to advance new ideas, raise new pledges of support, and spur the delivery of agreed commitments, through the Doha Programme of Action.

Sixteen of the 46 LDCs now meet the graduation criteria, including 10 from Asia and the Pacific, with seven of these scheduled to graduate by 2026, of which four are from Asia and the Pacific. These include Bhutan, graduating in 2023, and Lao PDR, Nepal and Bangladesh, each graduating in 2026.