UK-Bhutan trade plummets by 50% in the last four quarters

Total trade in goods and services between the United Kingdom (UK) and Bhutan has seen a significant decline, plunging by 50% in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023. The total trade between the two nations was £4million (M), a decrease of 50% or £4M, compared to the £8M surplus recorded in the same period of 2022. This has been revealed in the latest report by the Department of Business and Trade, the UK.

Total UK exports to Bhutan amounted to £4M and total UK imports from Bhutan amounted to less than £1M in current prices, compared to the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022.

Notably, UK exports to Bhutan comprising less than £1M were goods and £4M in services in the four quarters ending Q2 2023. While the export of goods witnessed a negligible change, the export of services to Bhutan decreased by 50% or £4M compared to the same period in 2022.  The total UK imports from Bhutan were less than £1M (a change of less than £1M compared to the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022).

The top three goods imported to the UK from Bhutan in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023 were 9 unspecified goods imported worth £40 thousand; sugar of £20 thousand and travel goods, handbags etc of £10 thousand were imported.

The top five goods exported from the UK to Bhutan in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023 were:  beverages & Tobacco (£1.0M); 76K – Telecoms & sound equipment (capital) (£50 thousand); 84 – Clothing (£50 thousand); 87K – Scientific instruments (capital) (£50 thousand); and 59 – Other chemicals (£40 thousand).

Overall, this means the UK reported a total trade surplus of £4M with Bhutan, compared to a trade surplus of £8M in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2022.

Furthermore, the total UK market share in Bhutan was 0.3% in 2022 for the goods and services, which is a decrease of 1.3 percentage points compared from 2021. The UK market share in Bhutan was 0.0% in 2022 for goods only. This is unchanged from 2021. The UK market share in Bhutan was 2.4% in 2022 for services only. This is a decrease of 9.8 percentage points from 2021.

In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI), the stock of FDI from the UK in Bhutan was less than £1M in 2021, accounting for less than 0.1% of the total UK outward FDI stock.

Meanwhile, Bhutan was the 167th largest economy in 2022, in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), while the UK stood as the 6th largest. In the four quarters to the end of Q1 2023, Bhutan was the UK’s 213th largest trading partner (accounting for less than 0.1% of total UK trade); joint 221st largest goods trading partner (less than 0.1% of UK goods trade) and 203rd largest services trading partner (less than 0.1% of UK services trade).

Bhutan was also 208th largest export market (accounting for less than 0.1% of total UK exports); 219th largest goods export market (less than 0.1% of UK goods exports) and 196th largest services export market (less than 0.1% of UK services exports).

Additionally, in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023, Bhutan was 222nd largest import market (accounting for less than 0.1% of total UK imports), joint 203rd largest goods import market (less than 0.1% of UK goods imports), and joint 217th largest services import market (less than 0.1% of UK services imports).

Looking ahead, the trade between the UK and Bhutan remained steady in the 12 months to November 2023, with no significant changes in the trade of goods.

The report also presented the top services exported to the world by Bhutan in 2022. Bhutan exported about USD 13M of financial services; USD 4M of transport; USD 2M of Insurance and pension services and Government goods and services; USD 1M of Telecommunications, computer, and information services to the world in 2022.

Conversely, the top services imported by Bhutan from the world comprised transport valued at USD 83M, travel amounting to USD 39M, financial services totaling USD 13M, government goods and services at USD 11M, and other business services worth USD 6M.

Overall, Bhutan exported approximately USD 22M worth of services to the world in 2022 while importing services were worth USD 210M conversely.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu