Bhutan: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Bhutan

Lightweight suit or a shirt and tie for the south. In the capital, a full business suit and tie are recommended. The best time to visit for business is October and November.

Economy

Almost all the working population is involved in agriculture. The economy is therefore mainly one of subsistence. The main products are cereals and wood, though logging is strictly controlled as 60% of the land area is protected forest. There is some small-scale industry, mostly textiles, handicrafts and carpets.

Recent economic policy has concentrated on export industries, of which electric power generation and transmission is the major earner. Tourism and stamps are major sources of foreign exchange. Gross National Happiness, which measures the population's physical, emotional and spiritual well-being to help assess the country's 'wealth', is an official part of the constitution.

Bhutan is hoping to join the World Trade Organisation in 2009 and is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, which seeks to improve the region's economic and commercial links. The country receives substantial aid from India.

GDP

US$1.3 billion (2007).

Main exports

Electric power generation and transmission, essential oils and handicrafts.

Main imports

Fuel and lubricants, machinery and parts, vehicles, fabrics and grain.

Main trading partners

India.

Keeping in Touch in Bhutan

Telephone

The telephone service is reasonable though getting a line can be slow at times.

Mobile phone

Coverage is extensive but since the mobile network is now superseding the landline service, oversubscription can lead to problems.

Internet

Access is growing. There are Internet cafes in large towns and access in major hotels across the country.

Post

Mail from Bhutan is liable to disruption because of the high value of Bhutanese stamps; they may be steamed off the envelopes en route.

Post office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1700, Sat 0900-1200 (summer); Mon-Fri 0900-1600, Sat 0900-1200 (winter).

Media

Fears of outside influences undermining the country's monarchy, freedom and culture meant that for years Bhutan had a deliberate policy of isolation, including a ban on television. The state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) launched the first TV service as part of celebrations surrounding King Jigme Singye Wangchuk's silver jubilee in 1999. Radio broadcasting began in 1973 and the first Internet service was introduced in 1999. There are no private broadcasters, but cable television is thriving though 'undesirable and irrelevant channels' have been filtered out.

Press

Kuensel is the autonomous weekly. The Bhutan Times and Bhutan Observer are privately-owned.

Television

Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) is state owned.
• Commercial channels are Cable Sat Club and Tshela Cable.

Radio

• Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) is the state-run radio station.

Edited by Jane Duru
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