There is so much that Bangladesh can learn from Bhutan
Our neighbouring nation of Bhutan has long been isolationist in its policies, but in recent years has been increasingly open, not just by welcoming tourism and an exchange of culture, but also through trade.
Bhutan’s economy is small relative to other players in the region, but in recent years its economic performance has been admirable, with the World Bank projecting formidable growth in the years to come.
The slated signing of our first preferential trade agreement (PTF) with Bhutan, due to take place in the first week of September, is certainly a positive development. As per this PTF, some 100 Bangladeshi products will enjoy duty-free access to the Bhutanese market, while 34 Bhutanese products will enjoy duty free access in Bangladesh.
Of course, alongside trade, we can reasonably expect a strengthening of regional connectivity, something the South Asia region has been working at for decades, and has failed to hit the mark due to various contentious issues that throw a wrench in regional cooperation.
The overall trade volume with Bhutan is still relatively small, but the symbolic value of stronger ties cannot be ignored; indeed it may be a catalyst for signing more deals with other countries.
Moving forward, there is so much that Bangladesh can learn from Bhutan. This landlocked nation’s emphasis on happiness rather than blindly looking at GDP is a concept that economists and policy experts are coming to appreciate more and more.
Already, Bhutan is an immensely popular tourist destination for Bangladeshis, and stronger trade ties will only strengthen this fruitful friendship.