New Delhi: – Four new trade routes have been opened between India and Bhutan. These trade routes will connect Bhutan with Nagarkata in West Bengal, Agartala in Tripura, and Jogighopa and Pandu in Assam. A permanent custom station also has been set up at Nagarkot, from where all materials can be transported. Before this, only specified materials could be transported on this route. Confidence is being expressed that this will increase the trade between India and Bhutan.
India is focusing on increasing connectivity with the neighbouring countries. In February, this year, Minister for Commerce, Piyush Goyal visited Bhutan. Discussions regarding opening these trade routes had been held during this visit. This also was the prime issue, discussed during the virtual meeting between the Commerce Ministers of both the countries. Thereafter, moves to open these routes were started. Against this background, Nagarkata, Agartala, Jogighopa and Pandu trade routes have been opened, between India and Bhutan. Trade was taking place through the Nagarkot port in West Bengal. But this trade had its own limitations. Whereas, the Agartala route also connects to Bangladesh. Jogighopa and Pandu are strategically important ports on the Brahmaputra river, in Assam. Therefore, trade starting between India and Bhutan on these routes becomes very important.
Before this, in June, another trade route between Jaigaon in West Bengal and Pasakha in Bhutan was started. In 2018, the bilateral trade between India and Bhutan had reached ₹92.27 billion. The opening of these new trade routes will provide further impetus to the India-Bhutan trade.
Meanwhile, China has increased its activities in Doklam. As per reports received, China has built a village on Bhutanese land, in the Doklam region, which is close to the India-Bhutan-China border. Although Bhutan has denied the reports, China has claimed rights over a large part of Bhutan. In this scenario, India opening new trade routes with Bhutan becomes a vital development even from the strategic point of view.