Austrian Delegation Seek Investment Opportunities In Bhutan And To Foster Stronger Ties

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According to the Austrian delegates, eight companies from diverse sectors such as energy, engineering, tourism and health visited Bhutan to explore new opportunities.

(Source: Facebook/Austriabhutansociety)

 

By MB Subba Kuensel

According to the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Austria’s expertise in agriculture, hydropower, tourism and manufacturing industries makes it a potential investor for Bhutan.

A delegation from Austria is in the country from 1-6 December to explore potential areas of cooperation with the Bhutanese government and the business community.

 

Source: BBS

 

A forum was also organised by the Austrian Development Agency to bring entrepreneurs from the two countries together to create business partnerships and to harness each other’s strengths.

Austria and Bhutan share similar industries such as hydroelectric power and organic farming

Speaking to the delegation in Thimphu on 4 December, the Deputy Secretary General of the BCCI, Chandra Chhetri said that Austria is a leader in the hydroelectric power and organic farming industries.  

In addition, the tourism industry is also an essential pillar of the Austrian economy. Thus, both countries share some similarities.

“The two countries hold tremendous scope to work within the bilateral framework,” the Deputy Secretary General of BCCI said.

 

A popular agricultural product - Bhutan Red Rice, irrigated by the glacial waters of the Himalayas.

Source: Bhutan Natural

 

The business delegation is accompanying the Austrian Ambassador to Bhutan, Brigitte Oeppinger-Walchshofer, the President of Tourism and Leisure Industry in the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Petra Nocker-Schwarzenbacher and the Commercial Counsellor for Bhutan in the Austrian Embassy, Dr Robert Luck.

Economic Affairs Minister, Loknath Sharma said that the government is committed to making Bhutan one of the 50 best countries to do business in the world. The ‘Ease of Doing Business Report 2019’ placed Bhutan in the 81st position.

Austria delegates seek business opportunities in Bhutan

According to the Austrian delegates, eight companies from diverse sectors such as energy, engineering, tourism and health visited Bhutan to explore new opportunities.

The visit also helps the delegates find business partners for their endeavours and to deepen the already existing engagement between the two nations.

“We look forward to furthering cooperation,” said the Deputy Secretary General of the BCCI.

According to the BCCI, Austria is the 14th largest import country, with Bhutan importing goods worth Nu 179 million (M) last year. Austria, he said, stood 15th as Bhutan’s export country with an export value of Nu 46M.

Why Bhutan needs to diversify its economy?

The Chief Planning Officer in the Economic Affairs Ministry’s Policy and Planning Division, Sonam Lhendup, said that there were compelling reasons for Bhutan to diversify its economy, which currently is dominated by hydropower and tourism.

 

A masked dance performed at a tshechu (festival) in Bhutan.

Source: DrukAsia

 

The key question, however, is how the country should go about diversifying its economy.

“We have started diversifying our economy,” he said citing the establishment of Bhutan Hydropower Services Limited in Jigmeling, Sarpang.

Sonam Lhuendup said that policies related to investment including the Foreign Direct Investment Policy and the Mining Policy will be reviewed during the 12th Plan.

According to him, the establishment of industrial estates and the Pasakha dry port will be also completed.

Data centres, BPOs and agriculture and allied activities were also cited as some of the areas of investment. The agriculture sector’s contribution Bhutan’s GDP was 17.37 percent in 2017.

Attributes which make Bhutan an attractive place for investors

Bhutan has 300 acres of land in industrial parks earmarked for the establishment of agriculture processing enterprises.

Bottled drinking water was highlighted as one of the products that carry high potential for return. Officials also said that the export market for bottled water is expected to increase by about 10 percent in the coming years.

Officials from the Economic Affairs Ministry said that Bhutan also provides a gateway to India, one of the biggest economies in the world. The low cost of electricity in Bhutan was also cited as one of the main advantages Bhutan offers to investors.

Bhutan’s English-speaking workforce and its low labour costs make the country an attractive country for investment.

The President of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Phub Zam said, “Bhutan is an economy in transition and presents huge investment opportunities.”

  

This article first appeared in kuensel  and has been edited for the new Bhutan Times.


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