YK Poudel 

The “Bhutan Thematic Expo 2023” commenced with the inauguration of four new local products at Changlimithang Parking Space in Thimphu yesterday. 

The event, attended by esteemed guests including the Ambassador from Kuwait and Bangladesh, the secretary of the Embassy of India to Bhutan, and government officials from various ministries, was inaugurated by Tashi Wangmo, secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Employment (MoICE).

The five-day expo, organised by the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), features eight thematic segments and aims to promote local entrepreneurship, facilitate product promotion, and foster networking opportunities. The event will run until June 26.

President of BCCI, Tandy Wangchuk, expressed optimism about the expo’s impact on entrepreneurs, stating, “Through this platform, local producers can promote their products and establish valuable networks. In addition to showcasing local products, the expo will also feature imported goods through local dealers and retailers.”

He further announced that BCCI, in collaboration with regional cooperation, plans to provide training in packaging and labelling to over 40 entrepreneurs and startups. This initiative aims to enhance the visibility and identity of premium Bhutanese products, enabling them to compete effectively in the global market.

Among the participants at the expo are four new enterprises: Azista Bhutan Health Care Limited, NTT Fengsi Production, Ugyen Dapa and Herbal Tea, and Druk Printing House. Alongside them, 61 other participants occupy 65 stalls at the venue.

Azista Bhutan Health Care Limited (ABHL), a joint venture company between Druk Holding and Investment InnoTech, Bhutan, and Azista Industries Private Limited, India, showcased their range of pharmaceutical drugs. 

The CEO of ABHL, PBC Obula Reddy, highlighted the company’s contributions to the local pharmaceutical industry, stating, “Established in 2018, ABHL produces over 36 pharmaceutical drugs approved for technical authorisation by the drug regulatory authority. This expo marks our first participation in a BCCI-organised event.”

Ugyen Samdrup, general manager of ABHL, acknowledged the support from BCCI and emphasised the significance of such assistance in building internal networks and supply chains within Bhutan and abroad. He noted that ABHL supplies 25 different DRA-approved drugs to more than 50 pharmacies across the country.

Sonam Zangmo, founder of FINN Noodles from NTT Fengsi Production, showcased a variety of noodles made from Druna Ghu, a combination of nine different cereals sourced from local farmers. Zangmo emphasised the company’s commitment to providing nourishing organic noodles while positively impacting the local community.

Meanwhile, Ugyen, the founder of Ugyen Dapa and Herbal Tea, based in Sarpang, shared his experience of manufacturing dapa for over 15 years. He expressed gratitude for the availability of local bamboo and wood, which has aided the growth of his business. 

Another participant, Druk Printing Solution, is the first private school notebook manufacturer in Bhutan, producing notebooks under the brand name “TOPPER”. The company specialises in manufacturing notebooks of various types.

According to BCCI officials, nominal rent has been set for each pavilion over the five-day period, with subsidies provided to encourage local niche products. While stall rents range from Nu 16,000 to Nu 35,000, all 27 stalls in the agricultural sector have been granted 100 percent subsidy.

The Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with support from the Transitional Trade Support Facility (TSF programme), the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC), and the Horticulture Association of Bhutan, has organized this significant event to promote local Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) products and foster market linkages through thematic showcases.

As the expo unfolds, it holds the promise of boosting local entrepreneurship, showcasing Bhutanese products, and nurturing a conducive environment for economic growth.