Thukten Zangpo

Bhutan’s export to third countries in the first quarter of this year has grown by 26.62 percent compared to the same period last year.

The export value from third countries was recorded at Nu 2.55 billion from Nu 2.01 billion during the period. Despite the increase in exports, imports also saw an increase by Nu 602 million, widening the balance of trade to Nu 4.89 billion from Nu 4.82 billion during the same period.

The growth of export revenue plays a critical role amidst rising imports and diminishing reserves. The country’s export to India earns Indian rupee while it earns in USD for export to other countries.

Excluding India, Bangladesh tops the country’s export list. Bhutan’s export to Bangladesh improved by about 16.67 percent to Nu 1.38 billion in the first quarter this year from the same period last year.

This was on account of the increased export of mandarin oranges worth Nu 285.63 million from Nu 175.33 million. At the same time there was an increase in the cardamom export worth Nu 282.88 million from Nu 195.25 million.

Bhutan’s only exports to Italy, ferrosilicon, was recorded at Nu 667.66 million in the first quarter this year from Nu 488.97 million in the same period last year. It was an increase of Nu 178.6 million.

The country’s exports to Nepal that includes gypsum, incense, tableware and kitchenware, among others also saw an increase to Nu 158.28 million in the first quarter this year from Nu 84.65 million in last year’s first quarter.

Bhutan also exported ferrosilicon, incense, paintings, drawings and handicrafts to China worth Nu 149.85 million from only Nu 0.33 million in the same period last year.

At the same time, the country exported ferrosilicon worth Nu 72.83 million to Spain, Nu 29.97 million to Netherlands, Nu 13.99 million to Poland, and Nu 22 million worth of ferrosilicon, cordyceps, and handicrafts to France.

The United Arab Emirates imported Nu 18.91 million of ferrosilicon and Nu 0.28 million of cordyceps from Bhutan in the first quarter of this year.

Vietnam imported Nu 13.67 million worth of green tea, cordyceps and others in the same period.

Bhutan also exported cordyceps, black tea, pepper, pasta, lemon oil, incense, bamboo articles, textile materials, statues among others worth Nu 1.82 million to Australia. At the same time, Singapore imported green tea, quinoa, cordyceps, perfumes, paintings and handicrafts worth Nu 5.05 million.

According to the budget report for fiscal year 2023-24, Bhutan anticipates a 7 percent increase in total export amounting to Nu 61.91 billion. The report outlines a rise of over 4 percent in hydro revenue from Nu 22.17 billion this year to Nu 23.14 billion next year.

Additionally, non-hydro revenue is expected to grow by 5.5 percent, reaching Nu 38.77 billion compared to Nu 36.76 billion this year. In the next five years, the ministry expects an average growth rate of 8.3 percent in export revenue.