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India, Bhutan ink several pacts, finalise MoU on rail links between them

Agreements were also signed in the fields of energy, trade, digital connectivity, space and agriculture, in the presence of the prime ministers of the two countries.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay witness officials from both nations exchange documents of MoUs and agreements signed between them, in Thimphu, Bhutan, Friday, March 22, 2024. (PTI Photo) (IMAGE VIA PMO)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIA and Bhutan on Friday (22) exchanged several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and signed agreements in the fields of energy, trade, digital connectivity, space and agriculture, besides finalising the MoU on the establishment of railway links between the two neighbours.

The MoUs were exchanged in Bhutanese capital Thimphu in the presence of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay during the former’s two-day state visit to Bhutan that kicked off the same day.

Modi met Tobgay in Thimphu “over a working lunch hosted in his honour” and thanked him for the “exceptional public welcome accorded to him, with people greeting him all along the journey from Paro to Thimphu,” India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

Read: PM Narendra Modi greeted with ‘Garba’ dance in Bhutan

The two leaders held discussions on various aspects of the multi-faceted bilateral relations and “forged an understanding to further enhance cooperation in sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture, youth exchange, environment and forestry, and tourism,” it said.

India and Bhutan enjoy long-standing and exceptional ties characterised by utmost trust, goodwill, and mutual understanding at all levels, the MEA said.

Read: PM Modi conferred Bhutan’s highest civilian award

“Ahead of the meeting, prime minister Modi and prime minister of Bhutan witnessed exchange of several MoUs/Agreements on energy, trade, digital connectivity, space, agriculture, and youth connect among others,” the statement said.

In addition, both sides have also “agreed on and initialled the text of the MoU” on the establishment of rail links between India and Bhutan, the ministry also said.

The MoU on the rail link provides for the establishment of two proposed routes between India and Bhutan, including the Kokrajhar-Gelephu rail link and Banarhat-Samtse rail link and their implementation modalities, it said.

The MoU on general supply of Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants (POL) and related products from India to Bhutan provides for a list of petroleum, oil, lubricants related items.

India would facilitate its supply to Bhutan through agreed entry/exit points, the statement said.

An agreement for recognition of official control exercised by Bhutan Food And Drug Authority (BFDA) by the Food Safety and Standards Authority Of India (FSSAI) will facilitate the trade between India and Bhutan by promoting ease of doing business and reducing compliance costs on both sides.

The MoU will make the export inspection certificate issued by BFDA acceptable by FSSAI for compliance with requirements prescribed by FSSAI while exporting the products to India.

The MoU on cooperation in the field of Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation measures aims to assist Bhutan in enhancing energy efficiency in the household sector by promoting a star labelling programme developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency.

The MoU covers facilitating the formulation of building codes based on India’s experience, creation of a pool of energy professionals at Bhutan by institutionalising training of energy auditors etc.

The MoU on cooperation in Sports and Youth would help further the people-to-people linkages between India and Bhutan by advancing linkages between sports agencies of both sides and conducting sports activities/programmes. The MoU on cooperation concerning sharing reference standards, pharmacopoeia, vigilance and testing of medicinal products.

This MoU would help further develop our close cooperation and exchange information in the field of the regulation of medicines under the respective laws and regulations of each side.

The MoU would allow for the acceptance of Indian Pharmacopoeia by Bhutan as a book of standards for medicines and supply of generic medicines at affordable prices. A Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) on Space Cooperation provides a concrete roadmap for further developing our space cooperation through exchange programmes, training, among others.

(With PTI inputs)

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