MB Subba 

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) yesterday launched the national e-commerce portal to enhance access to the international market for “Made in Bhutan” products.

Prospective buyers from both Bhutan and abroad can now log into www.bhutanmade.bt to see and order Bhutanese products of their choice. Buyers can make payments through a payment gateway.

Currently, nine merchants with 155 “distinct and authentic” Bhutanese products have been on-boarded on the portal. A large number of merchants are expected to be on-boarded gradually.

According to officials, the portal was launched in recognition of the need to nurture entrepreneurial culture through innovative technologies on the initiative of the RMA in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) and the Bank of Bhutan (BoB).

RMA Governor Dasho Penjore at the launch said that BoB would play a key role in implementation of the initiative. He also said that it was important to have showroom for Bhutanese small and cottage industry products.

“There are other e-commerce platforms as well, but this is entirely for products made in Bhutan. We have to look beyond Bhutan to sell our products given our small population,” he said.   

Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) Chairman Dasho Ugen Chewang said DHI would take the lead in digitalisation of the nation in line with His Majesty’s vision. He said that challenges in the implementation of such initiatives would be overcome.

The platform is an outcome of the Bhutan Economic Forum for Innovative Transformation (BEIFT) 2019, which was themed “Catalysing Cottage and Small Industries to Drive Bhutan’s Economic Diversification” and will provide a digital marketing platform for Bhutan’s cottage and small industries.

A press release from RMA stated that e-commerce had transformed and redefined the traditional way of doing business across the globe, gaining renewed thrust during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

It stated that given the small population size and the location of the country, the smart application of e-commerce technologies would help Bhutan overcome the barriers and challenges of economies of scale and the geography to integrate with the global market.

The portal is expected to pave the way for promotion and building of competitive advantages for Bhutanese products and small businesses.

“Partnership and collective efforts were key to develop the e-commerce ecosystem and has involved the active participation of various stakeholders, such as Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, the Bhutan Standards Bureau and the Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited,” the press release stated.

The stakeholders have worked on an e-commerce policy and regulatory frameworks, product certification and standardisation, and logistics to foster trust among consumers and businesses alike.

The order placement and integration were tested, through orders from the Royal Bhutanese Embassies in Bangkok and Brussels, and Bhutanese living in New York and Australia. The orders were successfully delivered although there was a delay in delivery due to the pandemic.

The portal will be managed and operated by the BoB for an initial period of two years. The operation of the portal then will be outsourced to interested entrepreneurs or other State-Owned-Enterprises.

The portal was developed by a local tech firm, Cloud Bhutan.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk