EU supports capacity building to improve export diversification
Bhutan’s export is limited. And it is highly concentrated with 80percent consisting of only ten commodities and mostly destined for the Indian market.
The trade concentration, according to experts leaves the country vulnerable and dependent.
With this in mind and aimed at diversifying export for economic growth and poverty reduction, the EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project is trained and building skills of entrepreneurs of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) for two days in Thimphu.
National Project Coordinator of EU-Bhutan Trade Support, Kiran Subedi said that the project specifically emphasis on increasing export and export diversification which would contribute to the implementation of the “Brand Bhutan” initiative.
He said that the focus was building capacities in formulation and implementation of trade and investment, the export of high-value horticulture, handicraft and textile products.
The focus activities were selected according to the potential for value addition, market demand and impact on women and youth’s livelihoods.
They are collaborating with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture Ministry, and Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Crafts.
Kiran Subedi said that the project would enhance access to trade and market information through setting up of a one-window platform for both exporters and importers.
Meeting technical and quality requirements in the international market place are essential for selling products. Quite often, export of Bhutanese produce is restricted or rejected because the produce lacks standard and certification, according to few participants.
However, experts are of the view that exporters have to ensure that their products meet the mandatory technical specifications of the target market to protect consumers’ health, safety, and the environment.
Senior Adviser of Export Quality Management, International Trade Centre (ITC), Khemraj Ramful said, to access markets, exporters have to obtain information about the technical requirements in the importing country.
The small and medium scale entrepreneurs are briefed on various elements of a quality infrastructure that comprises Standardisation, Conformity Assessment, Accreditation, and Metrology.
The workshop also provided information on the advantages that could be derived by the business community, from the WTO Agreements on technical barriers to trade.
Founder of Freed Meat, Dorji Dema said that she had no idea about certification and other processes when she started the business. She said that her product was rejected when she tried to export it to a Japanese company. “After that, I sent my product for testing and I now have BAFRA certification.”
According to a market studies, the Bhutanese products selected for export and market diversification are ginger, turmeric, mushrooms and yak dairy.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) associated with these products were trained on basic requirements when exporting the products. The selected SME produce will be taken to Paris next year.
The platform is expected to provide opportunities for the participating companies to showcase their products, and build new networks with EU buyers and importers.
The project worth EUR 4 million is funded by the European Union and is a part of the EU Regional Multi-annual Indicative Programme for Asia 2014-2020. ITC is the implementing agency of the project.