Joint Statement spells out areas of Indo-Bhutan collaboration

It further reasserts the commitments of the two countries in forging a clear path for a secure and credulous future

The future of Indo-Bhutan relationship appears more secure following another round of high-level exchanges between their leaders in the capital city over the past two days. A joint statement from the External Affairs Ministries of both countries highlights the exceptional bilateral ties characterized by trust, goodwill, and mutual understanding, fostering strong friendships and close people-to-people connections.

Indian Prime Minister (PM) Shri Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Dasho Tshering Tobgay engaged in productive discussions in Thimphu, reaffirming their commitment to elevating the bilateral partnership to new heights.

Both leaders acknowledged the significant contribution of the clean energy partnership to Bhutan’s hydropower sector and regional energy security. PM Modi praised Bhutanese firms and technical agencies for their growing domestic capacity in energy project implementation, while PM Dasho Tshering Tobgay commended India’s renewable energy sector growth and leadership in initiatives like the International Solar Alliance and India’s National Green Hydrogen Mission.

The leaders reviewed bilateral energy cooperation, expressing satisfaction with jointly implemented projects contributing to Bhutan’s economic development. They anticipate commissioning the Punatsangchhu-II Hydro-electric Project this year, building on the success of the Mangdechhu Hydro-electric Project.

Recognizing the potential benefits of the Bhutan-India energy partnership, they emphasized enhancing energy security, strengthening economies, generating employment, increasing export earnings, and developing industrial and financial capacities for both countries.

They identified opportunities to strengthen the clean energy partnership through new energy projects and electricity trade, with Indian entities participating as strategic partners. Discussions also focused on finalizing implementation modalities for new projects, including reservoir hydro projects, and facilitating financing and market access for Bhutanese power producers.

The leaders underscored the importance of power exchange for regional energy security, committing to regular consultations to enable investments in Bhutanese energy projects and ensure seamless cross-border trade in electricity. They also emphasized greater sub-regional energy cooperation and cooperation in energy efficiency and conservation through capacity development, policy exchange, and research and development.

The joint statement emphasized the deep-rooted friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and India, grounded in mutual trust, goodwill, and understanding, with close cultural ties and geographical proximity further strengthening the relationship. It highlighted the commitment to fostering a transformative partnership, promoting connectivity, expanding development partnership in line with Bhutan’s priorities, and collaborating on technology for economic growth and well-being.

The two countries pledged to strengthen trade and investment connections, particularly through private sector involvement, and foster people-to-people interactions across various domains, including academia, tourism, sports, and cultural heritage. They also committed to accelerating youth development partnership in education, skilling, entrepreneurship, technology, sports, and creative industries, supporting Bhutan’s goal of becoming a high-income nation by 2034 and India’s development objectives for 2047.

By Tashi Namgyal, Thimphu