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New Trade Routes for Bhutan – India’s BIMSTEC foray Strengthens Further

The blooming relationship between India and Bhutan are getting strengthened further. Upon the request of Royal Government of Bhutan, India has agreed to open new trade routes for Bhutan’s bilateral and transit trade with India at Nagarkata, Agartala, Jogighopa, and Pandu. Let’s see how each of this route play a role.

Till now, Nagarkata in West Bengal bordering with Bhutan’s Jitti in Samtse was notified as a ‘seasonal’ Land Customs Station (LCS) restricted for trade of certain commodities only (viz. orange, ginger, and cardamom). With this latest development, Nagarkata will now be notified as a ‘permanent’ LCS without any commodity restrictions, thereby allowing Bhutan to export inter alia boulders and river bed materials to India and other third countries, throughout the year.

While Agartala is a new addition to the trade routes, the other two new riverine ports – Jogighopa and Pandu, both located in Assam on India’s National Waterway 2 along the Brahmaputra River – will be included as additional trade routes for Bhutan’s bilateral and transit trade with India. All of these developments are aimed at benefiting Bhutanese traders by increasing logistical efficiency in terms of both time and costs while bringing competitively priced quality goods for Indian markets.

Earlier, India on 16 October 2020 formally allowed trade access through Ahllay in Bhutan, corresponding to Torsha tea garden in India, as an alternative to Phuentsholing. This has greatly mitigated disruptions in the movement of goods between the two countries, particularly given the congestion of traffic on the Jaigaon-Phuentsholing route and the evolving COVID-19 situation in the region.

BIMSTEC Foray Strengthened – Tripura in India Connected to Bhutan Via Bangladesh

The addition of Agartala as a new trade route that goes through Bangladesh further strengthens the BIMSTEC regional connectivity that India has been pursuing aggressively. It must be pointed out that the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which comprises of Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand and Sri Lanka, has been coordinating activities to increase connectivity of these countries with each other by water, air and land. This focus on the eastern frontiers of India further strengthens the Modi government’s development efforts for the North-East. The highway and port projects with Myanmar and Bangladesh are playing a significant role to that extent, while highways connecting with Myanmar and Thailand are also changing the paradigm for the North-East.

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