Trade: The country exported minerals worth USD 9.57 million (M) to Bangladesh last year, a three percent increase from the previous year.

In 2014, the country exported minerals worth USD 9.21M.

Although limestone and dolomite topped the list of exports, demand for boulders and chips doubled that further enhanced the export figures.

Records with Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) show that the country exported 93,838 metric tonnes (MT) of boulders and chips worth USD 1.25M to Bangladesh last year. In 2014, about 24,378MT of boulders and chips worth USD 0.36M were exported.

A total of 102,100MT limestone products in lumps and powder worth USD 5M and about 89,180MT of dolomite worth USD 2.5M were exported to Bangladesh last year.

Bhutanese export consignment has been facing problems in smooth transportation of minerals through the borders, Changrabandha in India and Burimari in Bangladesh. This has led to less consignment entering Bangladesh besides a decline in the overall export consignment.

BEA officials said strict examination and assessment by the new customs team in Burimari lead to huge traffic congestion, which delayed trucks entering Bangladesh. The frequency of vehicles has been limited to 150 trucks a day from the previous 400.

While no such issues were reported at the Indian border of Changrabandha, it was interferences from local exporters, association, and syndicates that affected export. BEA officials said that pressure from local truckers at Changrabandha from March 8 to 13 held up about 120 consignments from Bhutan. About 36 truckloads managed to enter Bangladesh on March 13 while the remaining were allowed to enter International Customs Point (ICP) for ready delivery.

The association on March 13 arranged a meeting with both the customs counterparts of Changrabandha and Burimari to resolve the problem.

BEA’s general secretary Tshering Yeshi said that the association has requested Changrabandha customs to provide Bhutanese trucks a separate route line to enter into ICP as an “interim measure.”

“But this will not solve the issue permanently as the number of trucks have been increasing with Bangladesh demanding more boulders from Bhutan and India,” he said.

BEA officials also expressed concerns that similar initiatives arranged in the past in collaboration with the Bhutanese Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh failed to materialize.

BEA has already forwarded the issue to Bhutan Chamber for Commerce and Industry and had verbally indicated it to the Bangladesh Embassy officials in Thimphu.

BEA records indicate a steady increase in minerals exports in the last four years. Bhutan also exported minerals worth USD 8.24M in 2013, while minerals worth USD 8.31M were exported in 2012.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing