Wednesday April 26, 2017 02:10 PM

A friend in Bhutan

  • Published at 10:00 PM April 20, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:43 PM April 20, 2017
A friend in Bhutan

Bangladesh has much to learn from Bhutan -- its emphasis on happiness is a wonderful concept that economists are increasingly coming to appreciate

It is heartening to see Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extend a hand of friendship to the Kingdom of Bhutan, our neighbours to the north we have so much to gain from.

The PM met with King Jigme Khesar Namgyei Wangchuk, as well as Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, and signed six agreements and MoUs — a sign of good things to come in the Bangladesh-Bhutan relationship for the near future.

Bhutan has long been isolationist in its policies, but in recent years has been opening up to the world in terms of commerce and tourism, introducing democracy into its constitution as recently as 2008.

The country’s recent economic performance has been nothing if not admirable, with the World Bank projecting a growth rate of 9.9% this year.

It is a positive step for Bangladesh to increase ties now through the signing of deals pertaining to agriculture, the avoidance of double taxation, quality control of goods, and most importantly, allowing the land-locked country the use of inland waterways.

The Dorjilung hydropower project is a great investment opportunity for Bangladesh, and could signal a new era in energy cooperation between South Asian nations.

But Bangladesh also has much to learn from Bhutan — its emphasis on happiness is a wonderful concept that economists are increasingly coming to appreciate.

In a Forbes interview, when asked asked what his favourite thing about meeting people of his country was, Prime Minister Tobgay said: “To see genuine smiles.”

A country like that is worth being friends with.

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