Commerce Secretary Level Meeting between Bhutan and India

The Commerce Secretary Level Meeting (CSLM) between Bhutan and India was held in New Delhi, India on November 3, 2021. The Bhutanese delegation was led by Mr. Karma Tshering, Secretary, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan with senior representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture & Forest, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority of Bhutan, Bhutan Standard Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade. The Indian delegation was led by H.E. Shri B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India (GoI) with senior representatives from relevant agencies.

The CSLM is held annually to promote and facilitate trade and commerce between the two countries. However, due to the pandemic, Commerce Secretary Level Meetings could not be convened for the last few years. The CSLM 2021 reviewed the trade and transit issues including measures to further strengthen bilateral trade relations and issues of mutual interest, including ways to increase trade connectivity between the two countries. There were five broad agenda items in total which were considered favourably during the meeting. The Letter of Exchange to include seven additional entry/exit points in the Protocol to the Trade, Commerce and Transit agreement between the two countries was also signed and exchanged.

The first formal Agreement on Trade and Commerce between India and Bhutan was signed on 17 January, 1972. Since then, trade between the two countries has steadily grown over the years with India being the largest trading partner for Bhutan. In 2020, total trade value with India was recorded at Nu. 95 billion accounting for 82 percent of Bhutan’s total trade.