Work to finalise the draft trade rules and regulations is underway and a multi-sectorial meeting is being held in Phuentsholing to discuss the draft.

According to trade officials, the sectorial meeting would consolidate various existing rules and regulations into a single document.

“There are different reference documents at present and we want to streamline and compile just one for trade implementation,” chief trade officer, Rinchen Lhazom said.

She said the change was timely because the existing rules and regulations were drafted more than a decade ago. The country’s economy has changed rapidly since then and the rules and regulations need to align, Rinchen Lhazom said, adding that some may not even be required anymore.

The meeting is reviewing Micro, Retail, and Wholsale Trade Regulations, 2006, rules and regulations for establishment and operations of commercial ventures, 1995, and rules and procedures for imports from third countries, 2002.

A trade legal officer, Kuenzang Dorji said there were differing perspectives as different rules and regulations were used.

He also said that there were government notifications that were prepared in making changes and amendments in the past years. All these notifications would also be consolidated.

From licensing to import and export, various topics were discussed yesterday.

A representative from the private sector, Tika Sharma said that cardamom export from Jaigaon border has been stopped for a long time.

“This is done because the plant quarantine in Kolkata asked for quarantine clearance,” he said, adding that local certification from Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) was not accepted.

He said that this was done after the introduction of electronic data interchange (EDI) system that came with the Goods and Services Tax.

Today, Bhutanese exporters transport cardamom from Samtse and Gelephu border areas, as there are no EDI. However, if EDIs are introduced in all borders, Tika Sharma said it would difficult to export cardamom.

It was pointed out there were confusions over whether trade or BAFRA were the competent authority to take this up.

Rinchen Lhazom said that there would be many issues that come up from import and export points among trading countries. “We have a trade negotiation department that takes care of such issues,” she said.

Issues she said would be flagged during annual meetings held between those countries that import and export.

The multi-sectorial meeting ends today. Following this, participants would take the draft trade rules and regulations back to their respective agencies for further review.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing