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Amid impending Chinese presence, India woos Bhutan with trade and connectivity | India News

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NEW DELHI: From identifying more border trade points to conducting a feasibility study for a rail link between the two countries, the government will do its utmost to thwart China’s attempts to remove Bhutan from its sphere of influence from India.
After opening a new trade route last week, India is likely to approve Bhutan’s request for another permanent land customs station (LCS) to facilitate more Bhutan exports to India and Bangladesh. India is also considering opening another integrated checkpoint (ICP), sources said here.
These initiatives are significant as Bhutan sidesteps China’s attempts to establish formal diplomatic relations with India’s only neighbor who has not yet joined the Beijing BRI initiative. However, the government realizes that Bhutan may still be susceptible mainly due to its border dispute with China, which recently saw Beijing making a new territorial claim in eastern Bhutan and near the border with Arunachal Pradesh.
Sources here said that while conducting a feasibility study for a rail link between Mujnai in West Bengal and Nyoenpaling in Bhutan, the Land Port Authority of India also identified Jaigaon in the Alipurduar district of West Bengal for the development of a integrated control (ICP).
Following a request from Bhutan, India is also considering notifying the Jitti-Nagrakata JCS as a permanent LCS that has so far been a seasonal season for the trade of crops like orange, ginger and cardamom.
According to the Indian authorities, Bhutan requested it mainly to facilitate the export of rocks and riverbed materials to India and Bangladesh. “Bhutanese exporters find it difficult to export these products through the nearest permanent LCS (Loksan-Bhimtar) due to high transportation costs and the restriction of the carrying capacity of en-route river bridges,” said a source, who described Bhutan as India’s closest partner. .
“The idea is to positively engage Bhutan and boost trade through improved connectivity. These efforts will have a positive effect on the growth of trade with the northeast states,” he added.
Following a request from Bhutan, India had opened an additional trade route under Jaigaon LCS in Ahllay, Pasakha last week as a “temporary measure” during the current Covid 19 situation.
This new overland route for the movement of industrial raw materials and goods destined for the Pasakha Industrial Estate will boost bilateral trade and lead to decongestion of vehicle traffic along the Jaigaon – Phuentsholing route, the government said.
According to India, there is an annual trade of Rs 6 billion between India and Bhutan on the border between Jaigaon and Phuentsholing.
“Trade with countries other than India through this border trade point is an additional Rs 1.4 billion. This point of sale supplies about 75% of total trade between the two countries and about 74% of trade Bhutan’s total with the world, including India, “said an official, adding that the trade and transit agreement last renewed in 2016 allows free trade and commerce between the two countries.
“This agreement also mentions around 21 commercial entry / exit points between the two countries, including ten commercial points with Land Customs on the Indo-Bhutan border. Bhutan also uses some of these commercial points for trade with third countries” . additional.

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