India and Bhutan Collaborate To Enhance Trade and Customs Cooperation

The key areas of cooperation that were discussed included the opening of new Land Customs Stations, the development of infrastructure, the automation of transit processes, and measures to prevent smuggling.

The 5th Joint Group of Customs (JGC) meeting between India and Bhutan was held on May 6th-7th in Leh, Ladakh. The main objective of the meeting was to strengthen bilateral ties and address various issues related to customs and trade facilitation. The meeting was co-chaired by Surjit Bhujabal from India and Sonam Jamtsho from Bhutan.

The key areas of cooperation that were discussed included the opening of new Land Customs Stations, the development of infrastructure, the automation of transit processes, and measures to prevent smuggling.

 

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Bhutan expressed gratitude to India, particularly the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, for their ongoing support in capacity building and skill development for Bhutanese customs officials. They also appreciated India’s efforts in promoting cross-border trade and economic activities through bilateral agreements.

The India-Bhutan Joint Group of Customs meetings, held annually, aim to redefine and re-engineer customs procedures while promoting cooperation and trade facilitation in line with global best practices. These meetings are crucial for enhancing connectivity and developing trade infrastructure along the India-Bhutan border.

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India is Bhutan’s top trade partner, both in terms of imports and exports. Trade between the two countries has significantly increased since 2014, reaching $1,615 million in 2022-23, which accounts for about 80% of Bhutan’s overall trade. Given Bhutan’s landlocked status, trade through Land Customs Stations plays a vital role in its economic activities.

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