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Bhutan: Economy#

Bhutan's economy, small and less developed, is based largely on hydropower, agriculture, and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than half of the population. Because rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive, industrial production is primarily of the cottage industry type. The economy is closely aligned with India's through strong trade and monetary links and is dependent on India for financial assistance and migrant laborers for development projects, especially for road construction. Bhutan inked a pact in December 2014 to expand duty-free trade with Bangladesh, the only trade partner with which Bhutan enjoys a surplus.

Multilateral development organizations administer most educational, social, and environment programs, and take into account the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. For example, the government, in its cautious expansion of the tourist sector, encourages visits by upscale, environmentally conscientious tourists. Complicated controls and uncertain policies in areas such as industrial licensing, trade, labor, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment.

Bhutan’s largest export - hydropower to India - could spur sustainable growth in the coming years if Bhutan resolves chronic delays in construction. Bhutan currently taps only 5% of its 30,000-megawatt hydropower potential and is behind schedule in building 12 new hydropower dams with a combined capacity of 10,000 megawatts by 2020 in accordance with a deal signed in 2008 with India. The high volume of imported materials to build hydropower plants has expanded Bhutan's trade and current account deficits. However, Bhutan and India in April 2014 agreed to begin four additional hydropower projects, which would generate 2,120 megawatts in total. Bhutan also is exploring energy exports to Bangladesh.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$6.432 billion (2016 est.)
$6.066 billion (2015 est.)
$5.766 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$2.085 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate6% (2016 est.)
5.2% (2015 est.)
3.8% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$8,100 (2016 est.)
$7,800 (2015 est.)
$7,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving37.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
31.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
35% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 53.4%
government consumption: 18.7%
investment in fixed capital: 64.3%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 42.4%
imports of goods and services: -78.8% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 16.4%
industry: 42.1%
services: 41.5% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, corn, root crops, citrus; dairy products, eggs
Industriescement, wood products, processed fruits, alcoholic beverages, calcium carbide, tourism
Industrial production growth rate6.5% (2016 est.)
Labor force348,800
note: major shortage of skilled labor (2015 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 57%
industry: 21%
services: 22% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate2.6% (2014 est.)
2.9% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty line12% (2012 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 30.6% (2012)
Distribution of family income - Gini index38.7 (2012)
38.1 (2007)
Budgetrevenues: $640.4 million
expenditures: $703.3 million

note: the government of India finances nearly one-quarter of Bhutan's budget expenditures (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues30.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt30% of GDP (2016 est.)
27.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal year1 July - 30 June
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.9% (2016 est.)
4.5% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rateNA%
Commercial bank prime lending rate13.7% (31 December 2016 est.)
13.75% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$710.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$669.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$1.25 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.174 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$929.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.031 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$320 million (31 December 2013)
$283.4 million (31 December 2012)
Current account balance-$579 million (2016 est.)
-$581 million (2015 est.)
Exports$500 million (2016 est.)
$580.3 million (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditieselectricity (to India), ferrosilicon, cement, calcium carbide, copper wire, manganese, vegetable oil
Exports - partnersIndia 83.8%, Hong Kong 10.8% (2013 est.)
Imports$1.1 billion (2016 est.)
$997 million (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesfuel and lubricants, passenger cars, machinery and parts, fabrics, rice
Imports - partnersIndia 72.3%, South Korea 6% (2013 est.)
Debt - external$2.261 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.911 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$267.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$238 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesngultrum (BTN) per US dollar -
68.39 (2016 est.)
64.15 (2015 est.)
64.15 (2014 est.)
61.03 (2013 est.)
53.44 (2012 est.)