Despite good relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan, the bilateral trade volume is relatively small and limited to few goods.
At the 7th Bhutan-Bangladesh commerce secretary level meeting yesterday, the commerce secretary of Bangladesh, Md. Mofizul Islam pointed out that this was due to lack of awareness among the business entities of the two countries.
Establishment of infrastructure to facilitate trade and communication and mutual recognition of standards, he said, was imperative to promote trade. “We need to identify ways to move forward.”
Tourism, health, power and business-to-business cooperation, he said are some of the economic complementarities the two countries could gain from each other.
On hydropower, he said the trilateral cooperation need to be expedited and further strengthened. “Bhutan could tap the hydro potential to the fullest and share with the entire region,” he said.
Mofizul Islam said that only Bhutan-Bangladesh trade talks are held every year and regularly.
The leader of the Bhutanese delegation and economic affairs secretary, Dasho Yeshi Wangdi said Bangladesh is an important trading partner for Bhutan. Commending on the success story of Bangladesh’s economic transformation, he said Bhutan stands to gain from it.
“From few thousands of trade value in 1998, the trade volume between the two countries have reached US$ 53M in 2017,” he said. However, he said the two sides must work closely to further strengthen trade.
“The royal government also places high priority in south-south cooperation,” Dasho Yeshi Wangdi said.
Finalising the trade and transit agreement and fast tracking the implementation of MoU on inland waterways were on the agenda. The MoU was signed in 2017 during the visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina to Bhutan.
The objective of the closed-door meeting was to exchange and explore new areas of cooperation, promote trade and commerce, discuss issues pertaining to trade, transit, investment and tourism.
Bangladesh is the second largest trading partner and export market for Bhutan.