GoI considers special trade concessions for Bhutan

The restriction on the import of potatoes from Bhutan has been lifted with effect from July 4, 2022, up to June 2023

Among the various trade-related requests made by the government to the Government of India (GoI), the latter has recently made a special exemption for Bhutan by lifting the restriction on the import of potatoes with effect from July 4, 2022, up to June 2023.

This is expected to alleviate the difficulties faced by Bhutanese traders in exporting potatoes to India.

Potato is the most important cash crop of Bhutan and India is the top export destination for Bhutan’s potato exports.

In 2020-21, the GoI had formally notified 12 additional agri-exports of Bhutan – including potato – in the Plant Quarantine Order of India, thereby allowing formal market access of these Bhutanese products in India. In order to facilitate bilateral trade of agri products, India opened a new plant quarantine office at Jaigaon in 2020.

The GoI had recently also revised the import policy of India to allow the import of fresh wholly produced ginger from Bhutan, with effect from May 19, 2022, to address the problems faced by Bhutanese farmers and traders in exporting ginger to India.

According to the press release from the Embassy of India, the GoI will be supplying 10,000 liters of Nano Urea / Nano Nitrogen Fertilizer (Liquid) to Bhutan through the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) at a special concessional rate.

“This is intended to benefit the Bhutanese farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, both for domestic consumption and export market,” states the press release.

Further, the GoI will be supplying 111,000MT of coal per annum to Bhutan through Coal India Limited (CIL) to meet the requirement of the coal-dependent industry in Bhutan and allow for unhindered supply and export of related products to India.

It is hoped that the supply of coal from India will greatly alleviate the current shortage of coal in Bhutan, which has an impact on cement production and on construction activities in Bhutan.

“Despite the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and disruptions in the global supply chains, India has been extending the fullest cooperation and support to Bhutan in order to ensure the smooth movement of commodities during this period,” states the press release.

“Our close trade and economic ties are a reflection of the exceptionally close and friendly relations between India and Bhutan that has existed over decades. In view of this special relationship, notwithstanding global supply chain disruptions and shortages of various commodities, India has decided to accommodate Bhutan’s special requests.”

“The Government and the people of India stand resolutely committed to the long-term wellbeing and prosperity of the Government and the people of Bhutan,” states the press release.

Staff Reporter from Thimphu