24 May, 2018, Thimphu: Bhutanese producers of horticulture and textile handicrafts will enjoy better competitiveness in foreign markets following the launch of a new European Union (EU) project that aims to improve value addition, market linkages and the trade and investment regulatory framework.
Announcing the new project in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, on 24 May, Bhutan’s Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Leki Dorji explained: ‘The support from the EU will help in increasing export diversification which would help in implementing the “Brand Bhutan” initiative with increase in exports of selected value chains of horticulture and textile handicrafts’.
Provided with €4 million of funding from the European Union, the ‘EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project’ will run over 40 months and will be managed by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan.
EU Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski said: ‘This initiative aims to contribute to the Royal Government of Bhutan's objective of economic diversification, reducing economic dependence, opening up market opportunities and supporting job creation’. He added that ‘Our support in the sectors of horticulture and hand-woven textiles will ensure that the private sector continues to grow in the country, by producing and selling good quality products to foreign markets’.
Bhutan has in recent years gradually embraced international trade and investment in a bid to achieve economic self-reliance and inclusive green socio-economic development. Bhutan aims to build a strong, dynamic and progressive economy and a key goal of the ‘EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project’ is to support the government in this effort.
ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez said: ‘An improved trade and investment environment will be crucial for Bhutan to diversify its exports and achieve value addition. An important component will be to help horticulture and textile producers sell quality products in line with market demands. This diversification will play a significant role in Bhutan’s efforts to graduate from the least developed country category in 2021’.
‘As a long-time partner of Bhutan, ITC will continue supporting the government to achieve these objectives. Gender, youth entrepreneurship and protection of the environment will be integral parts of the support provided by ITC, in line with Bhutan's policies and national priorities’, she said.
A steering committee co-chaired by the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and the Delegation of the European Union to Bhutan with representation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and ITC will provide overall direction for the project. National level agencies and apex business entities will support work-plan development and the implementation
Notes for editors
About the European Union (EU)
The EU, which consists of 28 countries, has the world's largest economy and its third largest population, after China and India. Though richly diverse, the countries that make up the EU (its 'Member States') are all committed to the same basic values: peace, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. They have set up common institutions so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. By creating a frontier-free single market and a single currency (the euro) which has been adopted by 19 Member States, the EU has given a significant boost to trade and employment. It is also at the forefront of policies on sustainability.
The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For more information, visit www.intracen.org.