Asia politics: Quick View - Bhutan's prime minister attends investor summit in India

Content Type
Country Data and Maps
Institution
Economist Intelligence Unit
Abstract
No abstract is available.
Topic
International Relations, Politics, News Analysis, Forecast
Political Geography
Bangladesh, India, Bhutan

Event

On February 4th Bhutan's prime minister, Tshering Tobgay, concluded a two-day visit to India's Assam state, where he attended the Advantage Assam-Global Investors Summit 2018 and the opening of a consulate office in the state's largest city, Guwahati.

Analysis

Assam and India's other north-eastern states are central to that country's foreign policy, which aims to improve trade and relationships with its eastern neighbours, including Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal, an area where China has gained influence in recent years. Assam is a popular destination for Bhutanese traders, students, pilgrims and medical patients, presenting several opportunities for deeper collaboration. According to the latest available data from India's Ministry of Development of North-eastern Region, bilateral trade from Assam's Hatisar land custom station to Galemphoo in Bhutan amounted to around Rs495m (US$9.3m) in fiscal year 2010/11 (April-March).

Speaking at the summit, Mr Tobgay pitched Bhutan as an investment destination to government officials and business delegates from other countries, pointing to the nation's safety, stability, ease of doing business, cheap electricity and its free-trade agreement with India. Mr Tobgay's visit also saw the opening of Bhutan's second consulate in India. The establishment of a new consulate should ease travel and promote investment from and through India. Mr Tobgay also met Assam's chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal. The two held a discussion on the expansion of business and cultural ties.

Mr Tobgay also met Bangladesh's industries minister, Amir Hossain Amu, at the event and the two expressed a willingness to enhance co-operation by increasing bilateral investment, connectivity and trade. While Bhutan stands to gain from increased imports of higher-quality medicines from Bangladesh, as was discussed at the meeting, Bangladesh has expressed interest in importing electricity from Bhutan.

The latest developments support our view that India will remain Bhutan's closest economic and strategic partner over the foreseeable future. Bhutan's engagement with the rest of the world will remain limited to a small amount of trade with neighbouring countries.

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