Regional trade connectivity can help boost the economic growth of a country. However, political complexities and ground realities in trade facilitation are proving to be a growing concern.
This is according to the first draft findings of a study conducted by the Bhutan Media and Communication Institute (BMCI).
Bhutan is dependent on trading to fulfill the basic needs of its people like rice, ready made garments and religious artifacts, mostly imported from India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
However, according to the survey, timely implementation of these projects are challenging due to complex politics and economic ground realities in the countries involved.
Corrupt practices were cited as among the trade hurdles. Political and security issues, shortage of labourers, improper water and sanitation facilities and poor road conditions are other obstacles to enhancing regional trade connectivity.
Lack of animal and quarantine facilities and transshipment also added to the procedural delays and increase in the cost of trading.
The eight-month long survey on trade, transport and transit facilitation attempts to give a people-centric approach by studying the various trade hurdles.â€ It is trying to identify what are the current hurdles and by identifying the hurdles, obviously there would be some recommendations coming up,â€ BMCIâ€™s Director Pushpa Chhetri said.
â€œSo, we hope that the recommendations that we come up with will help the relevant stakeholders to better understand the issues and be able to come up with solutionsâ€.
For now, coming up with a regional agreement and simplifying current political process of trade facilitation is being seen as possible solutions to tackle the issue.
â€œMore integrated approach and understanding between different agencies within the country as well as with the agencies of other countries and use of ICT is coming as a major resolution to some of the issues and obviously there has to be regional agreements and harmonization of policies,â€ added Pushpa Chhetri.
The study also found out that the livelihood of certain stakeholders, such as truckers, labourers and support service providers in border towns, were directly dependent on the volume of trade.
The study is expected to generate more discussions and create greater public awareness on the issues related to regional trade, transport and transit facilitation.
BMCI is conducting this study in Bhutan as part of a larger study in the sub regions like Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh. Similar national level dialogues would be held in all the five countries.