Earmarks Euro 52M in assistance between 2014 and 2022
To diversify the country’s export and promote brand Bhutan, the European Union (EU) has provided a fund of Euro 4 million on May 24.
The EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project will run over 40 months and will be managed by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with the government of Bhutan.
This project is expected to increase the country’s exports by developing a value chain on selected products of horticulture and textile handicrafts, developing efficient market linkages and trade and investment regulatory framework.
EU Ambassador, Tomasz Kozlowski said the project was designed in consultation with the Bhutanese government, private sector and civil society organisation.
He said that EU provides budgetary support without dictating the terms and conditions because the country has well-established economic and social development policies.
“We have a strong conviction that Bhutanese government knows better how to spend the fund. It is a reflection of trust and confidence,” he said.
Irrespective of Bhutan’s LDC graduation status, he said EU would provide assistance and support to Bhutan. As the country experiences economic transformation over time, he said new instruments and new ways of collaboration must be explored as priorities change. Area of cooperation in science and technology has potential and scope in future, he said.
He also said that other trade support programmes and investment could be explored from the European Investment Bank (EIU) in future.
The EU ambassador also said that the EU can accommodate more Bhutanese students to pursue higher education in European countries through programmes like Erasmus plus and Marie Curie Scheme, where fellowships are offered in research works.
The EU has also sanctioned a fund of Euro 16.5M for rural development and climate change programmes. Another Euro 20M has been granted for the development of local government and fiscal decentralisation programs.
Counselor of political affairs Thibault Devenlay said technology transfer and capacity development in the field of renewable energy could be accommodated under the climate programmes.
Between 2014 and 2022, the EU has committed an assistance of Euro 52M for Bhutan. One of the EU delegates said that it is for the country to come up with programmes and identify areas where budgetary support is required.
“Bilateral relation between the EU and Bhutan is beyond the development agenda,” the Ambassador said adding that political cooperation and ties are at its best.
Beyond 2022, he said that financial planning for the next five years is ongoing in the EU. “But the EU is committed to support Bhutan,” he said.
Since 1982, the EU and Bhutan has worked together in various development cooperation projects targeted to reduce poverty, enhance food security and strengthen the democratisation process.