Traditionally, most foreign trade was with Tibet. By
however, following the closing of the Bhutan-China border
development of closer ties with India, formal trade with
replaced that with Tibet. Although banned by the Bhutan
by 1961, barter trade with Tibet has persisted. Since 1960
all of Bhutan's exports (93 percent in 1989) and the
its imports (67 percent in 1989) have been with India
(see table 28, Appendix).
Payments for imports in the 1980s were usually made
Indian rupees. There were no import duties on Indian
customs fees had to be paid on imports from other nations.
Both imports and exports increased steadily during the
from a total of Nu805.9 million in 1983 to more than Nu2.9
(see table 29, Appendix).
The balance of trade also improved
decade progressed. In 1983, for example, only 20 percent
was in exported goods, whereas 80 percent was imports;
negative trade balance improved markedly by 1990, however,
exports accounted for 40.2 percent and imports for 59.8
(see table 30, Appendix).
Although there was little
the United States, in recognition of its economic status
granted an exemption in 1985 from the competitive trade
requirements provided by the United States' Generalized
Exports, which reached almost Nu1.2 billion in 1990,
primarily of cement, talc, fruit (mostly oranges) and
products, alcoholic beverages, resin, cardamom, lumber
potatoes, and handicrafts. Although most trade was with
specialties as timber, cardamom, and liquor were exported
Bangladesh, Singapore, and countries in the Middle East
Europe. The opening of thirteen border crossings with
facilities for Bhutan's exports and imports also eased
Nepal and Bangladesh. An increasingly important export to
surplus power from Bhutan's Chhukha Hydel Project, which
Bhutan Nu22.3 million in FY 1988; that figure increased to
Nu399 million only two years later.
Imports amounted to nearly Nu1.8 billion in 1990. They
consisted of raw materials; textiles; cereals; fuel;
goods, including motor vehicles; and other consumer goods,
primarily from India.
Data as of September 1991