NEW DELHI: Bhutan King Jigme Wangchuk is set to commence his 3-day trip to India from Monday. During the king’s visit, both sides will review the bilateral cooperation between the two countries and further advance the bilateral partnership.
The Bhutan king will be accompanied by Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji and other senior officials, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.
The visit of King Jigme Wangchuk will give both India and Bhutan a chance to evaluate the whole range of bilateral cooperation as the two countries have special friendship and cooperation which is defined by mutual trust and understanding.
The Bhutan King’s visit comes at the invitation of President Droupadi Murmu. His visit is in keeping with the long-standing tradition of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries and during his visit, he will meet President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and senior officials will also call on the King of Bhutan. India has long been Bhutan’s top trading partner and continues to be the primary source of investments there. In November 2021, the Indian government formalised the opening of seven new trade routes for Bhutan’s bilateral and transit trade with India, new market access was provided for allowing the formal export of 12 agri-products from Bhutan to India, and various special exceptions/quotas for export are also provided.
India has been extending economic assistance to Bhutan’s socio-economic development since the early 1960s when Bhutan launched its Five Year Plans.
For the 12th Five Year Plan, India assisted Bhutan with Rs 4500 crore for various multi-sectoral project-tied assistance, small development projects, Direct Budgetary Support, etc. In line with our ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’, new market access has been opened for five agri-commodities from Bhutan to India (Areca nut, Mandarin, Apple, Potato, and Ginger), and three commodities from India to Bhutan (Tomato, Onion, and Okra).
The unique relationship between India and Bhutan has been preserved by a custom of frequent high-level exchanges between the two nations. It is important to note that some of the high-profile visits will be made by prominent individuals, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2019 and Foreign Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in 2019 and April 2022.
Moreover, in January 2023, Bhutan was also visited by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra. Earlier in February 2023, a Parliamentary Delegation from Bhutan led by Wangchuk Namgyel, Speaker of the National Assembly of Bhutan called on President Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Welcoming the delegation, the President said that we deeply value the multifaceted and unique friendship between India and Bhutan. The President noted that this year Bhutan would graduate from the Least developed countries (LDC) group of countries and embark on the path of becoming a High Income Economy by 2034.
In line with India-Bhutan unique and special relations, India ensured a continuous supply of trade and essential items to Bhutan, despite COVID-19-related lockdowns. In special assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic – 13 consignments of medical supplies, the first country to receive Covishield Vaccines.
The revised Bilateral Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan came into effect in 2017 and would be valid for ten years. The basic framework of India-Bhutan relations is the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation signed in 1949 between the two countries, which was renewed in February 2007. The bilateral ties have been advanced by regular high-level exchanges between the two countries.
Moreover, India is foraying into new avenues of bilateral cooperation with Bhutan such as Space Cooperation, Smart Agriculture, Youth and Sports, startups, Renewable energy and Digital Development, to help the Royal Government of Bhutan realize its vision of prosperity for all. (ANI)