flag Bhutan Bhutan: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Bhutan is a small economy highly open to foreign trade, which represents 78% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Bhutan has been involved in a sub-regional economic cooperation process for several years, being a member of several regional organisations (SAPTA/SAARC) and a candidate to join the WTO since 1999. Nevertheless, the accession process has remained frozen since 2017 as the government estimates joining the WTO would be a distraction from providing necessary conditions for a high gross happiness index (GNH). According to data from the Ministry of Finance, in 2023, the country’s main exports included electricity (31.9% of the total), ferrosilicons (26%), ferro-silico-manganese (5%), dolomite (5.2%), and boulders (4.4%), whereas imports were led by other light oils and preparations (9.1%), processing units (3.7%), gasoline (3.1%), ferrous products obtained by direct reduction of iron ore (2.9%), and semi-milled or wholly milled rice (2.8%).

In 2023, India was by far the main trading partner, accounting for 52.7% of total exports and 78.5% of imports. Other export destinations were Bangladesh, Italy, Nepal, and China. Apart from India, Bhutan imports from China, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong (data Ministry of Finance).

Since 2008, Bhutan has registered a trade deficit; a trend that is expected to continue in the years to come. Over the years, imports increased drastically while exports remained generally stable. In 2022, the country exported USD 724 million worth of goods and USD 22 million of services while imports stood at USD 1.5 billion for goods and 210 million for services (WTO). According to figures from the Ministry of Finance, in 2023, the country exported BTN 52.9 billion worth of goods against BTN 108.4 billion in imports, marking a decrease of 6.9% and 8.7% year-on-year, respectively. Bhutan’s trade deficit contracted by 10.3%, to BTN 55.5 billion.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 1,0489818991,2201,511
Exports of Goods (million USD) 606674651784724
Imports of Services (million USD) 228219226136210
Exports of Services (million USD) 1831681352222
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 7-6-1216n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 514-209n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -417-401-311-171-610
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 84827685n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 53484653n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 31343032n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows

 
 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs Duties

 

Trade Compliance

International Economic Cooperation
Member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Member of Economic Cooperation Forum (BIMSTEC)

Bhutan is also a signatory to ‘Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)’, envisaged primarily as the first step towards the transition of SAARC countries into an Economic Union .

Useful Resources
Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC)
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The Industrial Property Division.
 
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2024

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