Bhutan Trade and Foreign Investment

By | July 23, 2022


  • Business Relationships
  • Foreign direct investment
  • FTAs ​​and Treaties
  • Development Cooperation
  • Prospective fields of study (MOP)

Business relations

Trade relations with the EU

The trade balance between the EU and Bhutan is positive. EU exports to Bhutan were worth €18.1 million in 2021. Imports from Bhutan to the EU amounted to EUR million. The main items of import include industrial products and agricultural products. Major exports include industrial products and agricultural products.

  • Allcountrylist: Overview of major industries in Bhutan, including mining, construction, transportation, tourism, and foreign trade.
2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Exports from the EU (million EUR) 12.6 8.7 31.3 83 18.1
Imports into the EU (million EUR) 13.2 26.3 10 5.7 6.9
Balance with the EU (million EUR) 0.6 17.6 -21.2 -77.3 -11.2

Source: European Commission

Trade relations with the Czech Republic

Mutual trade between the Czech Republic and Bhutan is minimal, the balance sheet and the commodity structure are very fluctuating and are only intermittent.

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Exports from the Czech Republic (billion CZK) 0 0 0 0 ON
Imports to the Czech Republic (billion CZK) ON ON ON ON ON
Balance with the Czech Republic (billion CZK) 0 0 0 0 ON

Source: CZSO

Trade relations with countries outside the EU

Data for Bhutan’s foreign trade with non-EU countries is not available.

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Exports from countries outside the EU (million EUR) ON ON ON ON ON
Imports to countries outside the EU (million EUR) ON ON ON ON ON
Balance with non-EU countries (million EUR) ON ON ON ON ON

Source: EIU, Eurostat

Foreign direct investment

In recent years, Bhutan has been revising its policies and increasing its efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). First, overall FDI inflows have been quite limited, averaging less than US$20 million per year since 2010. In 2016, FDI inflows in Bhutan turned negative (-US$13 million), while it recovered to US$10 million in 2017, but fell to US$5 million in 2018. This is significantly less than other South Asian countries. In 2016, South Asia attracted US$54 billion in FDI, consisting of India ($44 billion), Bangladesh ($billion), Pakistan ($2.0 billion), Sri Lanka ($898 million), Nepal (106 million $) and Afghanistan ($100 million). It is even lower per capita. India is the largest investor (mainly in manufacturing), followed by Singapore (15%) and Thailand (13%), which invested mainly in the service sector. Overall, 65% of FDI came from Asia, 25% from Europe, 9% from the Americas and about 1% from Oceania. Most of the FDI projects are located in the capital city of Thimphu. Bhutan is still the Asian country that attracts the least FDI (also due to its small size). This is in marked contrast to East Asia.

FTAs and treaties

With a view to increasing regional trade, Bhutan signed the first preferential trade agreement with Bangladesh in December 2020. Under the agreement, a total of 100 Bangladeshi products have duty-free access to the Bhutanese market and 34 Bhutanese items have duty-free access to Bangladesh.

Neither the EU nor the Czech Republic have concluded any agreements with Bhutan.

Developmental cooperation

India is the largest provider of development aid. Japan is another important partner of Bhutan and also the second largest provider of development aid with the implementation of a whole range of infrastructure projects.

Existing EU assistance includes €42 million under the Multiannual Indicative Program (MIP) 2014-2020. The current EU MIP for the period 2014-2020 was launched in Bhutan by former European Commissioner for Development Andris Pielbalgs. Two main sectors were designated for support in the MIP: Sustainable agriculture and forestry and climate change. An additional EUR 9 million was provided for thematic and regional programs to support climate change and the diversification of agricultural and handicraft exports. In 2019, an increase of €7.3 million was confirmed to contribute to Bhutan’s decentralization efforts and improve the government’s financial space for the implementation of the 12th FYP. This would mean the establishment of a National Search and Rescue Center and wider access to safe and potable water.

Due to the country’s isolation and the difficulty of gaining entry, no Czech non-governmental organizations operate in the country. No small local projects are implemented in Bhutan. The problem is primarily the conditions for financing development projects set by Bhutan, when Bhutanese institutions demand the transfer of the entire financial amount to the project before it starts, which basically makes assistance from the Czech Republic impossible.

Prospective fields of study (MOP)

Bhutan is not included in the ILO.


Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)

First aid: (02) 22596, 22497, 112

Police: (02) 22470, 113

Fire brigade: (02) 22555, 110

Important web links and contacts

Tourism Board, Official Tourism Information

National airline Druk Air

United Nations website on Bhutan

Government portal

Gross National Happiness Commission

Construction Development Board

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Bhutan Trade