As part of the civil service restructuring, a department for economic and technology diplomacy is created under the foreign affairs ministry to enhance, coordinate and lead all engagements related to economic diplomacy.
The Department of Regional Cooperation is merged with the Department of Multilateral Affairs.
The human resource and budget of the new department is mobilised from the erstwhile regional cooperation department.
An official from the ministry said that economic diplomacy calls for a new paradigm of external actions or engagements to proactively and effectively maximise national gains in the area of trade, investment and other forms of economically beneficial exchanges including in the field of science and technology.
Currently, various government agencies and institutions are involved in promoting national economic interests at varying levels and under different mechanisms.
Economic and tech diplomacy director, Tshewang C Dorji said that the ministry and its diplomatic missions abroad have long been engaged in economic diplomacy but more on a reactive basis.
“Through this focused and targeted approach, the ministry and its diplomatic missions abroad, including its diplomats, will play a frontline role in promoting the country’s economic interests abroad with technical inputs from the relevant agencies,” the director said.
The department has two divisions looking after economic and tech diplomacy.
The director said that broadly the department will work towards strengthening economic cooperation; promoting foreign trade and promoting science and technology.
The department will also explore innovative financing mechanisms for developmental activities and exploring skill development and employment opportunities abroad.
The director said that, for instance, the department will facilitate in bringing foreign direct investments. “We will also study the accession to the World Trade Organization.”
The department will work closely with relevant technical agencies and diplomatic missions abroad to explore and mobilize economic and technological advancement opportunities or resources.
Economic and technological change is seen to be both a driver and enabler of growth, even more so, as the country moves beyond the pandemic and national efforts are focused on economic recovery and growth including strengthening long-term economic resilience.
Currently, the mandate of economic diplomacy is diffused in the ministry, inhibiting a focused approach to fully harness the potential of trade to stimulate economic growth.
The director also said that a stronger focus on economic interests, science, technology and innovation will not only enhance our foreign policy and national priorities but also help Bhutan pursue these interests more effectively to meet the country’s needs and challenges in a highly competitive world.
“The ministry through its diplomatic missions abroad can be the driver and facilitator to promote Bhutan’s economic, business and scientific cooperation with other countries,” the director said.
However, the director said that since the department was new, they are setting up for a change.
Currently, the department is inviting experts in economics and technology to give orientation to the employees to get familiarised.