Meeting with the Ambassador of Switzerland to India & Bhutan

H.E Dr. Ralf Heckner, Ambassador of Switzerland to India & Bhutan paid a courtesy visit to BCCI on 10th April, 2024 and met with Chamber officials and President of Association of Wood Based Industries (AWBI).

His Excellency conveyed that the purpose of visit was to discuss the forthcoming Swiss delegation to Bhutan scheduled for the end of August, 2024 and to follow up on the B2B networking session held between Swiss delegation and Bhutanese business entities held on 2nd August, 2023 in Thimphu. He shared that the 3rd Swiss delegation would be from the Swiss Economic Forum and would be led by the CEO of the Swiss Global Enterprises, lady with a very high public-standing  who was on the Minister for Justice.

Secretary General, BCCI while welcoming His Excellency and the team for the meeting, conveyed the warm greetings of the Hon’ble President of BCCI who was on official tour. He expressed BCCI’s willingness to support the Swiss delegation to Bhutan. He updated that following the previous Swiss delegation, there wasn’t much progress in business networking due to lack of diversity in the sector represented. However, ongoing discussion between a Bhutanese representative and a Swiss counterpart regarding the import of the health-related products were highlighted.

Highlights: Following are the highlights of the discussion:

  1. The Ambassador conveyed that the upcoming delegation to Bhutan will be led by the Head of Swiss Global Enterprise who previously served as the Minister of Justice
  2. E emphasized the upcoming visit of two Swiss retailers to Bhutan to explore the agricultural products offered by Bhutan.
  3. The Embassy of Switzerland offered assistance in re-connecting with the Swiss counterpart.
  4. AWBI President highlighted the investment opportunities within Bhutan’s wood-based industry and associated activities stating the potential boost with the upcoming of Gelephu Mindfulness City, while also noting challenges such as lack of technologies and inadequate capacity.
  5. The Ambassador suggested submitting a proposal to the Embassy of Switzerland indicating areas of potential business opportunities in Bhutan, specifying the required support and expectations. This would enable the Swiss Embassy to facilitate connections with relevant Swiss partners.
  6. While tourism is gradually recovering post-pandemic, entrepreneurs and businesses in Bhutan are facing challenges in accessing financial resources. Further, most of the businesses are small in scale, limiting their capacity to engage in international trade.
  7. The Secretary General also shared that the current FDI policy is being reviewed by the government with BCCI being part of the review committee, made inclusive submission related to economic activities and to ease-out the business regulations. The new FDI policy is yet to be finalized.
  8. E underscored that based on the new FDI policy and aligning with Vision of His Majesty’s Mindfulness City in Gelephu it will enable the team to field in the next Swiss Economic Mission to Bhutan.

  Key takeaway:

  1. Bhutanese entities seeking FDI /Business partners must come up with a very concrete idea note/concept note as just having a general discussion is not going to take us way forward seriously.
  2. Accordingly, they will facilitate in connecting our members with the right business members from Switzerland.

The Ambassador was accompanied by the Deputy Head of Mission and Honorary Consul of Switzerland in Bhutan.