India reaffirms commitment to Bhutan’s socio-economic development during King’s official visit
During an official visit to India from April 3 to 5, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss regional and global issues of mutual interest, as well as to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the way in which India and Bhutan had assisted each other during the COVID-19 pandemic and reaffirmed their commitment to the long-standing Bhutan-India development partnership, based on trust and mutual friendship.
In a joint statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs, India agreed to extend its support for Bhutan’s 13th Five-Year Plan and to consider Bhutan’s request to extend an additional Standby Credit Facility for a period of five years. Bhutan appreciated India for extending Standby Credit Facility at a reduced interest rate and for providing an additional currency swap support of USD 200 million. The timely flow of funds from the Indian government for projects under the 12th Five-Year Plan was noted with satisfaction.
Hydropower cooperation was identified as the cornerstone of the India-Bhutan bilateral economic partnership. Both sides expressed satisfaction that projects totalling 2136 MW, which have been jointly set up, are functioning well. The recent handing over of the 720 MW Mangdechhu HEP to Bhutan was welcomed. Both sides reiterated their commitment to finding a technically sound and cost-effective way forward for Punatsangchhu-I HEP, and they expressed satisfaction with the progress in the construction of the 1020 MW Punatshangchhu-II HEP.
Both sides welcomed the growing strength of bilateral trade and economic ties and agreed to expand cooperation on trade, technology, cross-border connectivity, and mutual investments. In particular, they agreed to work on long-term sustainable arrangements for the export of agricultural commodities and to explore long-term bilateral arrangements for the assured supply of critical commodities to Bhutan, such as petroleum, fertilizers, and coal.
The two sides also agreed to extend their energy partnership in the area of non-hydro renewables, such as solar and wind, and in green initiatives for e-mobility. They expressed their commitment towards greater sub-regional cooperation, including in the energy sector, which would lead to increased inter-linkages between the economies for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders,
The two sides welcomed the exceptional progress made in the space sector cooperation, including the recent launch of the first satellite jointly developed by India and Bhutan and the inauguration of the satellite’s ground earth station in Thimphu. They also agreed to work on new areas of partnership, including startups, space, and STEM education.
The joint statement concludes by affirming that the India-Bhutan partnership will continue to grow in strength, based on the principles of trust, mutual benefit, and shared prosperity.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team