KATHMANDU, June 21: Nepal and Bhutan on Monday held the fourth round of trade talks through virtual means to expedite the bilateral trade and cooperation between the two countries.
According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, both the countries agreed to revise the lists of goods under the preferential treatment in Monday’s meeting. The meeting also focused on the issues related to the certificate of origin.
Bhutan has been pressing Nepal to sign a bilateral trade agreement. So far, Nepal has signed bilateral trade agreements and treaties with 17 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia, India, Russia, South Korea, North Korea, Egypt, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Pakistan, Romania, Mongolia, and Poland. Nepal has a bilateral preferential treatment arrangement with India while it receives preferential treatment from China, the US and European countries.
Nepal imports gypsum, coal, heavy equipment, boring machinery, juice and industrial equipment, among others, from Bhutan. Iron rods and alloy of aluminum, transformers, snacks, soap, furniture, woolen carpet, farm products, jute bags and cooking appliances are among the major export items to Bhutan.
Nepal has been facing a trade deficit with Bhutan, with a surge in import from the country year on year. In 2020/21, Nepal faced a negative trade balance worth Rs 567.03 million with Bhutan, with exports of Rs 636.33 million compared to the imports of Rs 1.20 billion.
In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, the trade deficit with Bhutan reached Rs 719.93 million. During the review period, Nepal exported goods worth mere Rs 354.02 million while it spent Rs 1.07 billion in imports from the SAARC member country.