Bhutan’s export dropped to 20 percent during lockdown
Export of goods from major industries declined to around 20 percent of the normal export capacity during the three-week nationwide lockdown, according to the economic affairs minister Loknath Sharma.
Overall export (export from major industries and other goods), however, he said could have decreased to 10 percent. This comes in the light of GDP having contracted by 6.7 percent and the domestic revenue reduced by 70 percent in view of the nationwide lockdown.
The economic affairs minister said that the government was able to facilitate the export and import activities since the second week of the lockdown although the country could not export anything in the first week.
“We exported whatever was manufactured by our industries in Pasakha in Phuentsholing and Motanga in Samdrupjongkhar from the second week of the lockdown,” he said.
He said that about 52 industries, especially the big ones, functioned in a self-contained mode during the lockdown.
The recently opened land customs station at Allay in Pasakha, he said, also helped export and import of goods between Bhutan and India. Import mainly was of raw materials for the manufacturing industries.
“There was no complete halt in the export of goods. Even now, we are facilitating the export of cash crops like potatoes from Samdrupjongkhar and other points,” Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said.
The government, he said, also tried to continue importing goods, mostly industrial raw materials, from Phuentsholing and the Alay land customs station by following the Covid-19 safety protocols to keep the economy running.
Import of goods reduced to around 10 percent during the lockdown.
“We did not have to rush to import essentials as we had maintained a buffer of such goods. That strategy really worked well and those goods imported by the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCB) and other wholesalers are still helping us,” he said.
The country, economic affairs minister said, did not face much problem during the lockdown in terms of availability of essential goods. He said that the government, however, continued to facilitate the import of goods like fuel and LPG.
Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said that export of goods, including apples, would not be affected despite the Covid-19 situation. He said that a standard operating procedure (SOP) has been put in place to carry on with export activities.