Of the 169 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, 134 are reflected in Bhutan’s policy frameworks, according to labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo.

The minister shared this during a three-day regional workshop on least developed countries (LDC) and leveraging trade as a means of implementation for the 2030 agenda, which began on August 2 in Thimphu.

The 17 SDGs are a part of, ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ adopted on September 25, 2015 as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.

Director of trade, investment and innovation division with United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Mia Mikic said there are 12 SDG goals and 35 targets, which directly or indirectly relate to trade and investment. “By doing standard orthodox trade (removing market barriers), you do expand trade to a degree but you don’t do much more in terms of ensuring that the benefits of the better market access reach those that are really in need.”

Which is why she said that utilisation of trade and investment should be looked at differently and that there is a need for a rich set of supporting policies. “The supporting policies should make sure that when we open the markets we actually bring the benefits and share them in a fair and equitable manner to ensure that countries equally share the benefits of the global prosperity,” she said. “Only in that way we will make sure that ‘we don’t leave anyone behind.”

The regional workshop, co-organised by UNESCAP and economic affairs ministry, aims to identify relevant and feasible policy options that can help address the emerging global challenges that may impact utilisation of trade as a means of implementation of the 2030 agenda.

It will also discuss the need for future capacity development for putting in place relevant policy responses and to review the state of data availability on trade related targets and indicators.

The minister said that an assessment of Bhutan’s legal and policy framework against SDG targets showed a high level of integration between the SDG targets and the country’s laws, regulations, policies and plans.

Bhutan ranked 13 out of 118 countries in the annual average economic growth with the country reaching a growth rate of 7.5 percent between 2006 and 2015.The average global economic growth rate is 4.4 percent.

Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said that in the global environment, there have been recent developments like rising protectionism, the weakening of multilateralism, confounding the impact of technology and trade, and erosion of effective preferences to least developed countries and developing countries. “It is important for us to enhance the understanding of possible global developments and their adverse impact on multilateral trade, identify our common challenges in leveraging trade and suggest feasible trade policy options and strategies to address these challenges.”

According to the Bhutan Trade Statistics 2016, the top trading partners of Bhutan is India with 82.91 percent followed by Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Karma Cheki