Jigmi Wangdi

The National Council of Bhutan deliberated on the adoption of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Charter and ratified it yesterday.

Home Minister Ugyen Dorji presented the BIMSTEC Charter to the House and extolled its benefits for the country.

Lyonpo said that the economic development and the well-being of the people cannot be achieved without Bhutan’s independence and that the adoption of the Charter further recognised Bhutan as an independent country.

“International experts have said that Bhutan being a small country can have difficulty being an independent country because we do not have military strength, population or financial means like other countries. Therefore, the experts say that Bhutan joining organisations like BIMSTEC is beneficial in the long run,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that because Bhutan only recently adopted the Charter, there have not yet been many benefits gained. “However, henceforth our country has to move forward as an independent country, by forming stronger relationships and by strengthening the structure of the Charter, which would bring benefits in the future.”

Lyonpo also added that the member countries of BIMSTEC do not have problems with each other like those present among members of SAARC.

Bhutan joined BIMSTEC in 2004 although it was founded in 1997. The Charter was signed and adopted during the fifth BIMSTEC Summit held in virtual format in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 30 March 2022.

A National Council member asked how BIMSTEC member countries can help Bhutan’s technical and economic development when some of the members are facing issues with development themselves.

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said that economic development can only be achieved with enhancement in trade with other countries. “So, we have to join such organisations which have guidelines and rules in place which can help countries’ economic development. This won’t be possible without maintaining relationships with other countries.”

The Legislative Committee was tasked to review it after the presentation. The National Council upon deliberation, ratified all the 11 chapters and 36 articles of the Charter.

The National Assembly ratified the Charter on June 13 earlier this year.