(Arranged in chronological order of the date of establishment of diplomatic relations)
Bhutan and India enjoy strong bonds of friendship marked by trust, understanding, goodwill and mutually beneficial cooperation. His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the Third King of Bhutan, and India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, were the chief architects who laid strong foundations for Bhutan-India relations. Successive leaders of the two countries have nurtured and further strengthened the special relations over the past many decades, and it is today a model of relations between two neighbours.
India provides significant assistance to Bhutan’s socio-economic development, the scope and substance of which have grown substantially since 1961 when Bhutan embarked on the process of planned development with the launching of its first Five Year Plan (FYP). Areas of engagements encompass collaboration in both multilateral arena and bilateral fields such as cultural exchanges, education, trade, hydropower and socio-economic development. Cooperation in the development of the hydropower sector in Bhutan is the centrepiece of the mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Bhutan and India.
Today, India is Bhutan’s largest development and most important trading partner both as a source and market for its trading goods and commerce. Moreover, as a landlocked country, all its third-country imports and exports transit through India. India is the biggest market for several of Bhutan’s exports, including electricity, dolomite, ferrosilicon, and semi-finished products.
One of the hallmarks of Bhutan-India relations is the tradition of regular exchange of high-level visits. His Majesty The King has undertaken several visits to India. In the recent past, His Majesty The King visited India as Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebration in 2013. In 2014, at the invitation of the President of India, His Majesty The King and Her Majesty the Queen were the first State Guests to stay at the refurbished wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Among the most remarkable of these visits was the State Visit in November 2017 to India when His Majesty and Her Majesty were accompanied by His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck.
At the invitation of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, H.E. Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering visited India twice: State Visit from 27-29 December 2018, and to attend the Swearing-in-Ceremony of Prime Minister Modi on 30 May 2019. Bhutan also receives, at regular intervals, visits at the levels of Head of State and Head of Government from India. It was a deep honour for the people of Bhutan to welcome H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, for his second visit to Bhutan from 17-18 August 2019. Bhutan was his first foreign trip as Prime Minister in June 2014 and among the first after his re-election in 2019. In November 2014, the Late President Pranab Mukherjee made a State Visit to Bhutan within a few months after Prime Minister Modi’s visit.
Relations between Bhutan and Bangladesh date back to the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country in 1971. On 6th December 1971, Bhutan became the first country to recognize the independence of Bangladesh. The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Bhutan’s recognition of Bangladesh’s independence and the launching of the year-long celebrations to mark the special occasion was graced by the Prime Ministers of the two countries on 6 December 2020. As a gesture of profound gratitude and to cherish Bhutan’s contribution to the Liberation War, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the Third King of Bhutan, was posthumously awarded the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour in 2012.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on 12 May 1973. Mr. Rinchen Kuentsyl is the current resident Ambassador of Bhutan to Bangladesh. H.E. Mr. A.K.M. Shahidul Karim is the current resident Ambassador of Bangladesh to Bhutan.
Besides being close neighbours, Bhutan and Bangladesh enjoy mutually beneficial collaboration and engagements in the fields of trade, cultural cooperation, people-to-people contacts, human resource development, agriculture, healthcare, standards and civil aviation. Trade is the most visible aspect of the relations between the two countries, and Bangladesh is today the second biggest export destination for Bhutan and the eighth largest source market for imports. Apart from these bilateral engagements, Bhutan and Bangladesh also work together in regional and international fora.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the State of Kuwait was established on 23 May 1983, with the opening of the office of the Bhutanese Consulate General in Kuwait. The Consulate was later upgraded to an Embassy on 23 April 1986. Kuwait is the only country in the Middle East where Bhutan has a resident diplomatic mission. Mr. Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor is the current resident Ambassador of Bhutan to Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Resident Embassy was established on 29 December 2010. Mr. Fadel Haider Saud Alhasan, Charge d’Affaires, has been serving as the Head of the Kuwaiti Resident Embassy in Thimphu since 30 April 2017.
Bhutan and Kuwait enjoy warm relations guided by the relationship between the Royal Families of the two countries. There has also been regular exchange of high level visits. Economic cooperation between Bhutan and Kuwait has been channeled mainly through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), which commenced its operations in Bhutan in 1983. Besides providing loans, KFAED has provided Technical Assistance for the feasibility studies for various Industrial Estate Development projects in Bhutan.
Since 2015, numerous Bhutanese have been working in the hospitality and service sectors in Kuwait. Their recruitment is conducted by authorized Bhutanese agencies and their counterparts overseas. The overall recruitment process is monitored by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.
Bhutan established diplomatic relations with Nepal in 1983. The Ambassador of Bhutan in New Delhi is accredited to Nepal, while Nepal’s Ambassador in New Delhi is concurrently accredited to Bhutan. Major General V. Namgyel is the current Ambassador of Bhutan to Nepal and H.E. Mr. Nilamber Acharya is the current Ambassador of Nepal to Bhutan.
Cooperation between Bhutan and Nepal are in the areas of civil aviation, tourism, and human resource development. The two countries also cooperate closely in the multilateral fora.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the Maldives were established on 20 July 1984. The Maldivian Ambassador in New Delhi is accredited to Bhutan, and the Bhutanese Ambassador in Dhaka is accredited to the Maldives. Mr. Rinchen Kuentsyl is current Ambassador-designate of Bhutan to the Maldives and H.E. Dr. Hussian Niyaz is the current Ambassador of the Maldives to Bhutan.
Although Bhutan and the Maldives have limited interactions in terms of bilateral cooperation, the two countries work closely in the regional and multilateral fora.
Diplomatic relations between the Kingdoms of the Netherlands and Bhutan were established on 10 June 1985. Dutch interests in Bhutan were represented by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), which was established in Thimphu in 1988, with a Country Director to dispatch development associates and to channel Dutch bilateral assistance. Prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Netherlands rendered assistance to Bhutan through UNICEF.
Mrs. Pema Choden, Ambassador of Bhutan in Belgium, is accredited to the Netherlands. Mr. Marten van den Berg, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan. The Netherlands provided ODA to Bhutan from the 4th Plan (1976-1981) to the 10th Plan (2008-2013) was € 54.185 million. The Dutch Government supported an ORIO grant for the Lhamoizingkha – Gesarling – Dagana Highway in 2010. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency has initiated a detailed technical study on flood protection alongside Mou River in Gelephu and explored the possibility of providing funding support for land reclamation.
The Prince Claus Fund (Amsterdam) and the World Monuments Fund (New York) have supported the restoration of Drametse Lhakhang and Trashigang Dzong.
A Multi Year Agreements (MYA) under Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) was successfully completed with the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources and Royal Audit Authority for short courses, Master Degree, PhD and tailor made training. The Clingendael Institute has collaborated with RIGSS for the Bhutan Foreign Service Program (BFSP) and has lectured at BFSP I and II. The Clingendael Institute regularly invites one junior Bhutanese Foreign Service Officer to attend a two weeks course on “Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation for SAARC countries and the SAARC Secretariat” at the Hague.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the European Union (EU) were established on 9 August 1985. However, engagement between Bhutan and the EU started even earlier in 1982 when the first agreement on the Plant Protection Services Project was signed.
Mrs. Pema Choden, Ambassador of Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Belgium, is accredited to both the European Council and the European Commission. H.E. Mr. Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the EU to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Under the EU Country Strategy Paper (CSP) 2007-2013, EU support to Bhutan in the 10th Plan was in the RNR Sector, Good Governance and Trade Facilitation. The EU tripled its assistance to Bhutan in the MIP 2014-2020 cycle by supporting (i) Local Government and civil society and (ii) Sustainable agriculture and forestry. The EU also provided additional support for the “Establishment of Search and Rescue Training Centre” and “Water Flagship”.
Apart from bilateral development assistance, Bhutan also availed opportunities under several other EU’s thematic windows of funding such as Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), ERASMUS+ scholarships and regional programmes.
The EU also provided technical assistance in the following areas:
- Technical assistance facilitated by Migration In EU eXpertise (MIEUX) to enhance the capacity of the Department of Immigration, MoHCA in the field of border management and document security.
- INTER PARES – Parliament in Partnerships with the National Assembly and National Council from December 2019.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Denmark were established on 13 August 1985.
Ambassador of the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Brussels is accredited to Denmark. H.E Mr. Freddy Svane, Ambassador of Denmark to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Bilateral development cooperation dates back to 1985. In 1989, Bhutan was among the first countries to be selected as one of Denmark’s programme countries. Since then, Danish assistance to Bhutan was the highest per capita amongst the 15 partner countries of Denmark. From a modest start, Denmark became Bhutan’s second largest bilateral donor after India. Denmark has contributed assistance to Bhutan since 1978 through UNICEF and Asian Development Bank.
With Bhutan’s increasing revenue from hydropower, Denmark decided to phase out its formal bilateral assistance. However, meaningful engagements continue between the various institutions of two countries and through the European Union.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Sweden were established on 27 August 1985. Informal relations between Sweden and Bhutan began in the late 1960s when a Swedish NGO known as Kwinnliza Missiongarbetare Sweden (KMA) or Swedish Women Association, financed the establishment of the Zangley Muenselling School for the Blind in Khaling.
Mrs. Pema Choden, Ambassador of Bhutan in Brussels, is accredited to Sweden. H.E. Mr. Klas Molin, Ambassador of Sweden to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Sweden provided assistance to various government agencies in the 9th Five Year Plan (2002-2007) was $ 1.2 million.
Bhutan and Switzerland established diplomatic relations on 16 September 1985. Bhutan’s relationship with Switzerland dates back to the close personal friendship between Late His Majesty the Third King and the Von Schulthess family in the 1950s.
Mr. Tenzin Rondel Wangchuk, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bhutan to the United Nations in Geneva, is concurrently accredited to Switzerland. H.E. Dr. Ralf Heckner, Ambassador of Switzerland to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Switzerland has been an important development partner of Bhutan since the 1960s. Swiss assistance initially was confined largely to livestock. However, in 1983, when Bhutan was identified as one of the 16 “Cooperation Countries” by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, their assistance to Bhutan expanded to areas in education, culture, rural infrastructure and renewable natural resources.
While Switzerland phased out its development cooperation in Bhutan at the end of 2016, it continues to engage and provide support to Bhutan through Helvetas. Development cooperation between the two countries today focus on the key areas of vocational education, decentralization, local governance and civil society.
Diplomatic relations between the Kingdoms of Bhutan and Norway were established on 5 November 1985. Bilateral cooperation between Bhutan and Norway dates back to 1964 when the Norwegian Santhal Mission came to Bhutan. At the request of the RGoB, the Riserboo Leprosy Hospital started functioning in 1967 with the assistance of the Santhal Mission. The hospital was formally handed over to the RGoB on 1 July 1991.
Mr. Tenzin Rondel Wangchuk, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Bhutan to the United Nations Office in Geneva, is concurrently accredited to Norway. Mr. Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Ambassador of Norway to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Norwegian assistance to Bhutan has mainly been in the fields of health (initially leprosy prevention and elimination, and later the Bhutan Health Trust Fund); power (HRD and institutional strengthening); and environment (Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation); and with some assistance for HRD in sectors like education and agriculture. In the past, Norwegian assistance was received for forestry, calcium carbide and ferro silicon industries, health, education, agriculture (through multilateral agencies) & the Royal Institute of Management.
Norway is the biggest donor to the Bhutan Health Trust Fund and under the 10th Five Year Plan (2008-2013), Norway supported the hydropower/energy sector.
Diplomatic relations between Japan and Bhutan were established on 28 March 1986. H.E. Mr. Satoshi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan in New Delhi, is accredited to Bhutan and Major General Vestop Namgyel, Ambassador of Bhutan in New Delhi, is accredited to Japan.
Relations with Japan date back to 1964 when Keiji Nishioka was assigned to Bhutan as a Colombo Plan expert to assist in the agriculture sector in Bhutan. He was conferred the title of ‘Dasho’ in 1980 by His Majesty the Fourth King for his outstanding contributions in modernising farming methods and uplifting the lives of Bhutanese farmers. The late Dasho Nishoka left an enduring legacy in the hearts of Bhutanese people. He was a pioneer in agriculture mechanization and laid foundations of a modern agriculture system in Bhutan.
Bhutan has received over the years Japanese assistance in Grant Aid and Technical Cooperation in key areas of human resource development, agriculture, energy, telecommunications, health and education, and infrastructure, including roads and bridges which have made significant contributions to the socio-economic development of Bhutan. The two Governments have established a mechanism to hold Annual Consultations for effective implementation of the substantive bilateral cooperation, promote better understanding through exchange of views on projects and issues of mutual interest.
Bhutan has also benefited from the valuable contributions and expertise of Japanese volunteers and JICA experts in critical sectors.
Since 1988, the JOCV Program has assisted in the economic and social development fields in Bhutan. Subsequently, the JICA Senior Volunteer Programme began in 2001. The JOCV Program Office was upgraded to JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) on 31 July 2003. The JOCV program in Bhutan has been executed through JICA since then. Since September 2019, the JOCV and JICA Senior Volunteers were categorized as one and referred as JOCV only.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the Republic of Finland were established on 1 May 1986.
Mrs. Pema Choden, Ambassador of Bhutan in Belgium, is accredited to Finland. H.E. Mr. Harri Kämäräinen, Ambassador of Finland to Bhutan with residence in Helsinki, is accredited to Bhutan.
Finland has supported watershed conservation and forest conservation under Community based Natural Resources Management. Finland also supported the Department of Hydro-met Services (DHMS), Ministry of Economic Affairs through the project “Strengthening Hydro Meteorological Service for Bhutan” to improve the capacity of DHMS to manage and produce high quality weather information and services. The Finnish Defence Forces International Centre – FINCENT supported the training of two armed forces officers for the UN’s Comprehensive Protection of Civilians Course (UNPCOC).
Bhutan and Sri Lanka established non-resident diplomatic relations on 13 May 1987. The Sri Lankan Ambassador in New Delhi is accredited to Bhutan and the Bhutanese Ambassador in Dhaka is accredited to Sri Lanka. Mr. Rinchen Kuentsyl is the current Ambassador-designate of Bhutan to Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka is yet to appoint its Ambassador to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Sri Lanka enjoy close and friendly relations and work together through institutions such as SAARC and BIMSTEC. The main area of cooperation between the two countries is confined to human resource development, besides engagements at the regional and international fora.
The Royal Government of Bhutan and the Republic of Korea established formal diplomatic relations on 24 September 1987. The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Dhaka is accredited to Thimphu and the Ambassador of Bhutan in Dhaka, Bangladesh is accredited to Seoul. Mr. Rinchen Kuentsyl is the current Ambassador-Designate of Bhutan to the Republic of Korea, and Mr. Lee Jang-keun is the current Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Bhutan.
Bhutan receives assistance from the Republic of Korea through various Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) programs and Small Grant Assistance, especially in the areas of human resource development. Areas of cooperation include training in economic strategy, trade promotion, public administration, vocational training and film making and KOICA volunteers program.
The KOICA Bhutan World Friends Program Office in Thimphu was established on 13 December 2019. The first batch of four KOICA volunteers were dispatched in December 2019.
Bhutan and Pakistan established diplomatic relations in 1988. The Ambassador of Bhutan in Dhaka is concurrently accredited as the non-resident Ambassador to Pakistan. The High Commissioner of Pakistan to Bangladesh is concurrently accredited as the non-resident Ambassador to Bhutan. Mr. Rinchen Kuentsyl is the Ambassador-designate of Bhutan to Pakistan and H.E. Mr. Imran Ahmed Siddiqui is the Ambassador of Pakistan to Bhutan.
As SAARC members, Bhutan and Pakistan enjoy friendly relations. Areas of cooperation between Bhutan and Pakistan include training programs, seminars and workshops under the aegis of SAARC and other international organizations.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Austria were established on 8 May 1989 following the February 1989 meeting between His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and Dr. Alois Mock, Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Austria, in Tokyo. Informal relations had, however, existed since 1968 when Bhutan purchased haflinger horses from Austria for crossbreeding.
Mr. Tenzin Rondel Wangchuk, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Bhutan to the United Nations Office in Geneva, is accredited to Austria. Mrs. Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer, the Austrian Ambassador in India, is accredited to Bhutan.
Austrian development assistance to Bhutan started with the provision of training for the tourism sector in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, the then Department of Animal Husbandry and Forestry also received Austrian assistance. In May 1989, an agreement on technical cooperation was formally signed in Thimphu to strengthen technical cooperation between the two countries. This agreement provided the institutionalized basis for Austrian assistance to Bhutan. In May 1997, the RGoB and the Austrian Government signed an agreed minutes identifying energy, Renewable Natural Resources, tourism and culture as the four main sectors for Bhutan-Austria Development Cooperation.
In 2010, Austria and Bhutan agreed on a Country Strategy for the period from 2010-2013, which identified energy, tourism and governance as the focal areas of cooperation between the two countries. Human rights, gender equality and empowerment of women, environment and capacity development are included under the non-focal areas and crosscutting issues. The Austrian Development Policy for 2013-2015 included Bhutan as a partner country and traditional priority in the Himalayas-Hindu Kush region, with a focus on the themes of energy, vocational training for tourism, and the rule of law and decentralization (improving capacity in local government and judiciary, and for the promotion of democracy).
The Bhutan Country Strategy 2019-2023 supports Bhutan in the transition period until its graduation from Least Developed Country status foreseen at the end of 2023 and stipulates the phasing out of Austrian Development Cooperation from Bhutan by 2023. Austria has committed to assist Bhutan in the areas of Governance and Sustainable Energy.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Thailand were established on 14 November 1989. The Royal Families of the two countries have shared strong relations since prior to 1989 and have exchanged visits. Mr. Tshewang Chophel Dorji is Bhutan’s current Ambassador to Thailand. Thailand is yet to appoint a successor to the former Ambassador H.E. Mrs. Arunrung Phothong Humphreys.
Beginning in the 1980s when Thailand offered few training slots under the Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation’s (DTEC, or Thai International Cooperation Agency since March 2005) Groups Training Program, Human Resource Development has been the main area of cooperation between the two countries. TICA also offers scholarships for Bhutanese students to pursue higher studies in Thailand. Besides TICA, private universities in Thailand also offer scholarships to Bhutanese students. In addition, His Majesty’s Secretariat and Royal Civil Service Commission receive numerous scholarships annually from various universities, schools, and hospitals in Thailand.
Technical cooperation in health began on 16 October 1987 with the signing of an MoU concerning human resource development and educational linkages. With the support of the Thai Government, work on the construction of an ENT center in Thimphu is underway. Bhutan has also been receiving volunteers with technical expertise in different fields such as agriculture, public health, tourism, and vocational programs from Thailand under the framework of the “Friends from Thailand Programme” since 2008. Bhutan and Thailand hold various meetings such as Annual Bilateral Consultation, Joint Trade Committee Meeting, and Joint Agriculture Working Group Meeting to keep track of the development activities between the two countries.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the Kingdom of Bahrain was established on 6 January 1992. The Embassy of Bhutan in Kuwait is accredited to Bahrain and the Embassy of Bahrain in New Delhi is accredited to Bhutan. Mr. Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor is the current Ambassador of Bhutan to Bahrain, and H.E. Mr. Abdulrahman Al-Gaoud is the current Ambassador of Bahrain to Bhutan.
Bahrain and Bhutan joined the United Nations at the same time and the national flags of the two kingdoms were hoisted at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in a single ceremony.
Currently, there are several Bhutanese working in the service and hospitality sectors in Bahrain. Their recruitment is conducted through authorized Bhutanese agents.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Australia were established on 14 September 2002.
Currently, the Ambassador of Australia to India based in New Delhi is concurrently accredited to Bhutan and the Ambassador of Bhutan to Thailand is accredited to Australia. Mr. Tshewang Chophel Dorji is Bhutan’s Ambassador to Australia, and H.E. Hon. Barry O’ Farrell is the current Ambassador of Australia to Bhutan.
Cooperation in human resource development forms the cornerstone of Bhutan-Australia relations. Australian assistance to Bhutan started in the 1960s with scholarships for Bhutanese public servants to pursue higher education in Australia. To this day, over a thousand Bhutanese have availed long- and short-term scholarships and fellowships through programs such as the Australia Awards Scholarship. In line with changing priorities of the two countries, the area of cooperation has also recently expanded to Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Further, through Australian Volunteer Program, which has a country office in Thimphu, Australian volunteers are placed in various agencies to fill existing capacity gaps.
Her Royal Highness Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji, sister of Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother, was presented with the title of the Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia in Thimphu on 11 July 2018 in recognition of HRH’s distinguished service to Australia-Bhutan relations, particularly in the education sector.
His Majesty The King conferred the National Order of Merit Gold to Mrs. Catherine Harris on 17 December 2019 during the 112th National Day celebrations in recognition of her services to Bhutan as the Honorary Consul of Bhutan in Australia.
The bilateral relationship has been boosted by strong people-to-people linkages between the two countries. Australia is home to Bhutan’s largest Bhutanese population abroad, with thousands of Bhutanese studying, working and living all over Australia.
Given the strong foundation and the growing ties between the two countries, the Royal Government has decided to open an embassy in Australia in 2021.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Singapore were established on 20 September 2002. Singapore’s Ambassador in New Delhi is accredited to Bhutan while Bhutan’s Ambassador in Thailand is accredited to Singapore. Mr. Tshewang Chophel Dorji is the Ambassador of Bhutan to Singapore and H.E. Mr. Simon Wong Wie Kuen is the Ambassador of Singapore to Bhutan.
Human Resource Development is the main area of cooperation between Bhutan and Singapore. Since 1971, Bhutan has received the support of Singapore for human resource development mostly through the Singapore Cooperation Programme. Support has also been received from the Singapore-Colombo Plan Program. Bhutan also received volunteers from Singapore through the Singapore Volunteers Overseas (SVOs).
The Temasek Foundation CLG Ltd. in partnership with InfoComm Department Authority (IDA) has supported capacity-building for the National Bhutan ICT Master Plan. The Air Service Agreement between Bhutan and Singapore was signed in Thimphu on 29 August 2011. Drukair’s flight to Singapore was launched on 28 August 2012. Drukair launched its inaugural flight on its new route from Paro to Singapore via Guwahati, India on 1 September 2018.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Canada were established on 25 June 2003.
The two countries enjoy warm and cordial relations that date back to the initiatives of the Canadian Jesuits in the 1960s. Canadian Jesuits were responsible for opening some of Bhutan’s premier educational institutions such as Kanglung and Khaling High Schools in Trashigang and Punakha High School. Most notable among the Canadian Jesuits was Late Father William Mackey, who made significant contributions to Bhutan’s education sector from October 1963 till he passed away on 18 October 1995. Father Mackey and his colleagues had set the stage for the long and friendly relationship that has developed today.
Ms. Doma Tshering, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission Of Bhutan to the United Nations in New York, is accredited to Canada and H.E. Mr. Nadir Patel, Ambassador of Canada to India is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Canadian assistance to Bhutan has mainly been in the education sector through the training of Bhutanese teachers and educationists at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Many Bhutanese teachers availed studies in Canada under the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), which had an office in Bhutan from 1985 to 1991. Following the closure of WUSC in 1991, the Canadian Cooperation Office (CCO), was opened in July 1992. The RGoB implemented 319 long and short-term training and study programmes in Canada under Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and various other programs. The CCO office in Thimphu was closed on 31 December 2008, which marked the end of CIDA programmes in Bhutan. Following the closure of CCO, the RGoB approved the opening of the Bhutan-Canada Foundation (BCF) in January 2009, with Ms. Nancy Strickland as the Executive Director. The primary objective of the foundation is to assist the RGoB in its ‘continued quest for education excellence’. Ms. Nancy Stickland retired from the BCF on 21 December 2016 and Mr. Karma Tshering was appointed as the Field Director for BCF in May 2017.
The signing of an MoU between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada in December 2018 paved a pathway for the two countries to hold biennial meetings to review bilateral relations and to exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest.
Subsequently, the first biennial bilateral consultations between the two countries was held on 25 November 2019 in Thimphu. The two sides discussed and explored collaboration in areas covering Agriculture, Health, Education, Mining, Tax Reform, TVET, Environment and Climate Change.
Bhutan and Belgium established diplomatic relations on 21 January 2009. Belgium is the first country with which Bhutan established diplomatic relations after becoming a parliamentary democracy in 2008. The Royal Government of Bhutan established a resident Embassy in Brussels in 2009 with concurrent accreditation to Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and the European Union.
The Ambassador of the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Brussels is accredited to Belgium. H.E. Mr. Francois Delhaye, Ambassador of Belgium to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Between 1992 and 2005, Bhutan received training offers from Belgium in regional planning, water resources management, development of small and medium enterprises, tourism marketing, and general electrician courses.
There is collaboration in higher education between the universities of the two countries through Erasmus+ programme to learn from each other in education and research training, explore areas of joint cooperation in research activities, lectures and seminars. The two countries have been collaborating through the European Union.
Bhutan and Brazil established diplomatic relations on 21 September 2009. Brazil is the first country in South America with whom Bhutan has established diplomatic relations.
Ms. Doma Tshering, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission Of Bhutan to the United Nations in New York, is accredited to Brazil, and H.E. Mr. André Aranha Corrêa do Lago, Ambassador of Brazil to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Bhutan established diplomatic relations with Afghanistan on 20 April 2010. The Ambassador of Bhutan to India is concurrently accredited to Afghanistan and the Ambassador of Afghanistan to India is concurrently accredited to Bhutan. Major General Vestop Namgyel, Ambassador of Bhutan to India, is the current non-resident Ambassador of Bhutan to Afghanistan. H.E. Mr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Ambassador of Afghanistan to India is the current non-resident Ambassador of Afghanistan to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Afghanistan enjoy good relations, especially through SAARC and multilateral fora.
Diplomatic relations between the two Kingdoms were established on 11 February 2011.
Mrs. Pema Choden, Ambassador of Bhutan in Belgium, is concurrently accredited to Spain. H.E. Mr. José Ramón Barañano, Ambassador of Spain to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Cuba established diplomatic relations on 26 September 2011.
The two countries have enjoyed friendly relations since the Sixth NAM Summit in Havana in 1979, when His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo attended the NAM Summit and met President Fidel Castro.
H.E. Mr. Oscar Israel Martinez Cordoves, Ambassador of Cuba to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the Republic of Fiji were established on 18 November 2011. Ambassador of Fiji in New Delhi, India is accredited to Bhutan. Ambassador Yogesh Jitendra Karan presented his credentials to His Majesty The King on 18 June 2015 as the first accredited Ambassador of Fiji to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Fiji enjoy friendly relations. The two countries have many commonalities in size, population and policy of preserving their ancient traditions alongside modern policies designed to stimulate economic development. The two countries can build on these similarities and explore possibilities of cooperation and collaboration in various areas in the future, especially in the areas of tourism, climate change and environmental conservations.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the Kingdom of Morocco were established on 21 November 2011.
H.E. Mr. Mohamed Maliki, Ambassador of Morocco to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Bhutan and the Czech Republic established diplomatic relations on 2 December 2011. H.E. Mr. Milan Hovorka, the Ambassador of Czech Republic in India, is accredited to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Serbia established diplomatic relations on 9 December, 2011.
The Ambassador of Serbia to India is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Indonesia were established on 15 December 2011. The Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia in New Delhi is accredited to Bhutan. Indonesia is yet to appoint Ambassador to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Indonesia enjoy cordial relations, and annual felicitation messages are exchanged between the Heads of State of the two countries. As countries in the Asian region and members of organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations, the two countries share a similar outlook and approach to international and regional affairs.
In 2017, the Government of Indonesia introduced a visa waiver scheme for about 169 countries, including Bhutan. Since then, Bhutanese have started visiting Indonesia, which will go a long way in promoting people-to-people relations and understanding between the two countries.
Currently, cooperation between Bhutan and Indonesia has been mainly in human resource development and education. Many Bhutanese undergo training in Indonesia under the sponsorship of the UN and other agencies.
The Royal Government of Bhutan and the Republic of Mongolia established formal diplomatic relations on 18 January 2012.
H.E. Mr. Gonchig Ganbold, Ambassador of Mongolia to India in New Delhi, is the current Ambassador to Bhutan.The two countries have cooperated in human resource development in the fields of traditional medicines, agriculture, and livestock.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Vietnam were established on 19 January 2012.
Vietnam’s Ambassador in New Delhi, India, is accredited to Bhutan and currently H.E. Mr. Pham Sanh Chau is the Ambassador of Vietnam to Bhutan.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar were established on 1 February 2012. Human Resource Development in the health sector is one of the main areas of cooperation between the two countries. The Ambassador of Bhutan in Bangkok, Thailand is accredited to Myanmar and the Ambassador of Myanmar in New Delhi, India, is accredited to Bhutan. H.E. Mr. Tshewang Chophel Dorji is the current Ambassador of Bhutan to Myanmar, and H.E. Mr. Kyaw Aung is the current Ambassador of Myanmar to Bhutan.
Cooperation in human resource development in the health sector has been the highlight of relations between Bhutan and Myanmar even before the two countries established diplomatic relations. In June 1995, the Royal Civil Service Commission and the Ministry of Health of Myanmar signed an MoU for cooperation between the two countries in health through dispatch of doctors from Myanmar and training of Bhutanese health professionals in Myanmar. Under the framework of the MoU, the Government of Myanmar dispatched technical experts, doctors and surgeons to work on a contract basis in different hospitals in Bhutan. 71 medical specialists from Myanmar worked in Bhutan between 2004 and 2015. The last batch of doctors left Bhutan in August 2015. Currently, there are no medical specialists from Myanmar serving in Bhutan.
Bhutan and Myanmar signed a revised Air Service Agreement on 24 May 2016.
As members of BIMSTEC, Bhutan and Myanmar engage in various issues under the 14 sectors of cooperation under BIMSTEC. All BIMSTEC Member States are partners in these areas of collaboration.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Argentina were established on 14 March 2012.
The Royal Government has approved the proposal from the Government of Argentine Republic to appoint H.E. Mr. Hugo Javier Gobbi, the new Ambassador of Argentina in India as the next Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was established on13 September 2012.
The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Kuwait is accredited to the UAE and the UAE Embassy in Delhi is accredited to Bhutan. H.E. Mr. Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor is the current Ambassador of Bhutan to the UAE, and H.E. Dr. Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al-Banna is the Ambassador of UAE to Bhutan.
The Governments of Bhutan and UAE maintain cordial relations through regular contacts between the Ambassadors of the respective countries based in New Delhi and in Kuwait.
An Air Service Agreement signed between Bhutan and the UAE on 29 November 2018 in Dubai, entered into force on 12 February 2020.
There are also numerous Bhutanese working in the hospitality and service sectors in the UAE.
Bhutan and Slovenia established diplomatic relations on 13 September 2012.
H.E. Dr. Marjan Cencen, Ambassador of Slovenia to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
There have been official exchanges of visits between the two countries to collaborate in forest management, eco-tourism, hydropower and other forms of renewable energy both bilaterally and through the European Union.
Bhutan and the Slovak Republic established diplomatic relations on 26 September 2012.
H.E. Mr. Ivan Lančarič, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
The two countries are exploring areas for mutually beneficial engagements besides cooperation through the European Union.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Turkey were established on 26 September 2012.
H.E. Mr. Sakir Özkan Torunlar, Ambassador of Turkey to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) supported the filing and data archiving through VPN for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and provided an ambulance to the Ministry of Health. Turkey also made a contribution when Cyclone Aila affected Bhutan in May 2009, and also contributed to the Bhutan Health Trust Fund in 2015. The Diplomatic Academy of the Turkish Foreign Ministry has been extending an invitation annually since 2011 for a young Bhutanese diplomat to participate in the ‘Young Diplomats Training’.
The Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt established diplomatic relations on 14 November 2012.
H.E. Dr. Heba Salah Eldin Elmarassi, Ambassador of Egypt to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Egypt are exploring possibilities for cooperation in human resource development and capacity building in the field of Agriculture, Library and Museum, and diplomacy.
Bhutan and the Republic of Kazakhstan established diplomatic relations on 20 November 2012.
H.E. Mr. Yerlan Alimbayev, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan in New Delhi, India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
The two countries are exploring cooperation in the areas of agriculture, tourism, health, education, and the environment.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Poland were established on 29 November 2012.
H.E. Mr. Adam Burakowski, Ambassador of Poland to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
A few Bhutanese students have studied in Poland under European Union (EU) scholarship schemes such as the Erasmus Mundus programme. The EU has been the window of cooperation between the two countries. There is potential for cooperation in the field of agriculture, culture and science between the two countries.
Bhutan and Azerbaijan established diplomatic relations on 7 February 2013.
H.E. Mr. Ashraf Shikhaliyev, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to India, is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Bhutan and Azerbaijan have initiated collaboration in Human Resource Development and Azerbaijan offers scholarships to students from Bhutan for higher studies within their “Scholarship Programme for citizens of the NAM Member countries”. There is also exchange of visits at the senior levels of Government.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the Sultanate of Oman was established on 15 March 2013.
The two countries are looking into appropriate arrangements for non-resident accreditation.
Bhutan and Germany established diplomatic relations on 25 November 2020 through exchange of Notes Verbale between the Royal Bhutanese Embassy and the Embassy of Germany in New Delhi.
The Ministry will soon accredit an Ambassador to Germany.
The Ministry has conveyed the Agrèment of the Royal Government of Bhutan to the accreditation of the Ambassador of Germany based in New Delhi to Bhutan.
German assistance to Bhutan started in the early 1970s. Bhutan was included as a programme country for German bilateral assistance from 1987 and a Technical Cooperation Agreement was signed between the two Governments on 21 December 1989 under which the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) established an office in Thimphu. The GTZ Office in Thimphu provided the necessary liaison for the co-ordination of German assisted projects. German assistance was mainly in the Renewable Natural Resources, Health, Technical Institute and cultural sectors. The GTZ office in Thimphu was closed in March 2006 after the conclusion of their last project in the country.
The two countries continue to collaborate on projects related to climate change, sustainable consumption and production, and other areas bilaterally and through the European Union.
Discussions are also ongoing between the two sides towards identifying new areas of cooperation.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and the State of Israel was established through an Exchange of Notes Verbale between the Ambassadors of the two countries in New Delhi, on 12 December 2020. The Embassy of the State of Israel in New Delhi will be accredited to Bhutan. The Royal Government of Bhutan is yet to decide on the accreditation of its Ambassador to Israel.
Bhutan has been receiving several training opportunities from Israel in human resource development, mainly in the agriculture and related sciences, long before the establishment of diplomatic relations. Currently, discussions are ongoing between the two sides towards identifying new areas of cooperation.