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Remarks by Ambassador at the Virtual Buyer Seller Meeting...
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Virtual Buyer-Seller Meet between Bhutan and APEDA, India

Thursday, 07 January 2021 | 1530 hrs

Remarks by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj: Special Partnership for Challenging Times

  • Dasho Ugyen Penjor Director General, Department of Agriculture and Marketing Cooperatives, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.

  • Shri Diwakar Nath Misra Joint Secretary, APEDA

  • Dr. M. Angamuthu Chairman, APEDA

  • All my colleagues from Bhutan and India

Bhutan is India’s priority partner. It is no exaggeration, therefore when we say that ours is an exemplary partnership. This is reflected in the regular political exchanges and the exceptional trust, understanding, and friendship between both our countries.

India is also Bhutan’s top trading partner and we enjoy free trade and commerce with Bhutan. And from that mix, agriculture is a pivotal sector in the economy of both countries. In this context, you are aware that the Government of India had recently allowed formal market access for five more agri-products of Bhutan, viz. apple, arecanut, ginger, mandarin, and potato (in addition to asparagus and cardamom). Pursuant to this and we are indeed delighted that there has been a marked increase in Bhutan’s agri-exports to India since October last year. Similarly, Bhutan has offered formal market access to three agri-exports of India – onion, okra, and tomato.

Going forward, we are seeking market access for seven additional crops for export from Bhutan to India (chilli, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, pea, and soyabean).

On request from the Royal Government of Bhutan, the first Plant Quarantine office on the India-Bhutan border was opened at the busiest trade point at Jaigaon to facilitate exports of agricultural products from Bhutan to India.

GoI has also made a special exemption for Bhutan only, by lifting the restrictions on import of potato from Bhutan, which has greatly alleviated difficulties faced by the traders and has also benefited consumers in India. A perfect example of a vis-a-vis partnership!

In a significant development, Bhutanese agri-producers have been matched with Indian supermarket chains for commercial supply of Bhutanese agri-products, particularly organic produce, to India. A few Bhutanese companies, such as Bhutan Herbal Tea, are in talks with our supermarket chains on the details.

Just last month we held a virtual meeting on ‘Organic Farming’ which brought together various stakeholders from the public and private sector of Bhutan with officials from the Indian state of Sikkim.

Looking ahead and in order to further expand our bilateral cooperation in the agricultural sector, including trade of agri-products and processed foods, we are happy that we are holding this virtual buyer-seller meet today between Bhutan and the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India (APEDA) on the theme “Special Partnership for Challenging Times”.

Through this event today, we hope to address our bilateral business relationship by expanding our trade partnership in the key sector of agriculture and food products. India is committed to ensuring full support to Bhutan in this regard despite the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

I look forward to participating in productive interactive discussions today on this key area of potential collaboration, and look forward to positive and mutually beneficial outcomes.

Thank you!

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