Dechen Dolkar  

The Government of India (GoI) has given a special concession on the export of wheat and sugar to Bhutan.

The Embassy of India in Thimphu has written a letter to the foreign affairs ministry on July 25, stating that “in view of friendly relations with Bhutan, the concerned authorities in India have made a special exception for Bhutan by permitting the export of 5,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat from India to Bhutan on the government to government request basis.”

On July 1, the government requested GoI for permission to import wheat from India.

GoI has authorised to export 5,000MT of wheat and 10,000MT of sugar.

Officials from the department of trade said that it would be imported based on the requirements in the country.

Wheat is not high on the import list. In the last three years, Bhutan imported an average of 5,000MT of wheat annually.“Based on average consumption, the government has requested up to 5,000MT,” the trade official said.

The official said that the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) will import the wheat for traders, which they make flour and for the general people’s consumption.

“There are few medium industries which require wheat as raw materials and they will be importing wheat themselves,” the trade official said.

According to the Bhutan RNR statistics 2021, wheat production over the five years has decreased gradually. In 2017, 3,883MT of wheat was produced and last year only about 1,169MT of wheat was produced in the country.

In May this year, due to sudden changes in the global supply chain affecting the price and availability of wheat and sugar, the GoI restricted the export of these two commodities to manage the overall food security of the country and to support other vulnerable countries.

GoI has also given a concession to import 10,000MT of sugar, out of which 6,156MT will be imported by FCBL for general consumption and the rest will be imported by industries as raw materials.

The trade official said that although the restriction is an interim measure, the import of sugar and wheat is only allowed with special permission from the authorities concerned in India.

Previously, GoI had made various trade concessions for Bhutan including lifting the restriction on the export of potatoes and ginger from Bhutan.

GoI has also agreed to supply Nano Urea /Nano Nitrogen fertilizer at a special concessional rate and supply coal to Bhutan.

Meanwhile, the government is also anticipating the lifting of restrictions on the export of areca nuts to India from Bhutan.