Japan to reconstruct six bridges in Bhutan; Bhutan and Bangladesh set to sign a Free Trade Agreement
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  • The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in cooperation with the Department of Roads (DoR), Bhutan will reconstruct six bridges along the Wangduephodrang-Sarpang highway. A contract will be signed between the Japanese contractors and the DoR after the detailed design of the Lawakha, Basochu, Nyarachu, Burichu, Chanchey and Loring bridges between Wangdue and Sarpang is signed between JICA and DoR. Among the six, Loring will be the longest at 120 meters in length1. The time line for the whole project is 2012.

    Meanwhile, the impact of the Wall Street financial meltdown is being felt in Bhutan too. The Bhutanese Ngultrum has hit the 48.05-mark against the US dollar, one of the highest in recent times. This is contrary to the expectations of many who were expecting a slide down. The plunge in the ngultrum value, according to Royal Monetary Authority officials, was because of the “volatile Indian stock market”, a knock-on effect of the Wall Street impact2.

    As Bhutan is all set to attract Foreign Direct Investment, laws are being revised and reforms initiated. A new report of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) states that licensing procedures for trade, industries and commercial overtures is adding a burden of NU 98.025 million every year. Friendly investment procedures which are economically and less time consuming are being therefore proposed3.

    At the bilateral front, Bhutan and Bangladesh would be signing a Free Trade Agreement in November 2008. During July 2007- March 2008, Bhutan exported goods worth $10.80 million to Bangladesh, with imports at US 4 .78 million4. Also, Bhutan and the Assam government have agreed to strengthen security along the border to contain infiltration and improve information sharing process. The decision was taken at the sixth border district coordination meeting between the Assam government and Bhutan5.