If you are a Bhutanese businessman looking to explore importing goods from China but are unsure where to start, or if you have previously attempted to engage in trade between China and Bhutan but faced challenges that led to failure, then this article is likely to be of assistance to you.
Luuksorucing.com has been engaged in international trade for many years. In the year 2021, a Bhutanese client approached us with the desire to import some goods into their country. They faced numerous challenges and obstacles, but with determination and perseverance, they successfully managed to transport a container of goods from China to Bhutan.
Due to the success of this client’s experience, we have since had several Bhutanese businesses approach our company, requesting assistance in procuring and shipping goods to Bhutan.
I will share in this article how to procure goods from China to Bhutan, as well as inform about the important considerations when importing from China to Bhutan.
1. The first challenge in importing products from China to Bhutan is transportation.
Bhutan is a landlocked country, unlike countries like India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh, which are coastal nations with their own seaports for direct maritime transportation of goods from other countries. Being a landlocked country, Bhutan lacks its own seaport, and if one wishes to transport goods via sea, they must first make transshipments through ports in other countries. This presents a logistical challenge for transportation.
Transporting goods via air or land is significantly more expensive, typically costing 3-5 times more than sea transportation.
Therefore, when considering importing products from China to Bhutan, the primary hurdle is transportation.
Now, let’s first gain an understanding of the country of Bhutan.
Bhutan, officially known as the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a small landlocked country located in South Asia. Here are some key facts and information about Bhutan:
- Geography: Bhutan is nestled in the Eastern Himalayas and is bordered by China to the north and India to the south, east, and west. It is known for its stunning mountainous terrain, lush valleys, and breathtaking landscapes.
- Capital: The capital city of Bhutan is Thimphu.
- Government: Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The King of Bhutan is the head of state, and the country transitioned to a democratic system in 2008.
- Language: The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, but English is also widely spoken, especially in government and education.
- Religion: Bhutan is predominantly a Buddhist country, and Buddhism plays a significant role in its culture and daily life. The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and Bhutanese people practice a form of Buddhism deeply rooted in their traditions.
- Gross National Happiness (GNH): Bhutan is famous for its unique approach to measuring the well-being and happiness of its citizens, known as Gross National Happiness (GNH). This holistic approach to development emphasizes factors like spiritual, mental, and social well-being in addition to economic indicators.
- Culture: Bhutan has a rich and vibrant cultural heritage. Its architecture, art, music, and dance are deeply influenced by Buddhist traditions. Festivals and religious events are an integral part of Bhutanese culture.
- Tourism: Bhutan is a popular destination for tourists seeking pristine natural beauty and cultural experiences. The country has a policy of “high-value, low-impact” tourism, which means visitors must pay a daily fee, but this fee covers most expenses, ensuring a more controlled and sustainable approach to tourism.
- Environmental Conservation: Bhutan is known for its commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability. It has a strong emphasis on maintaining a carbon-neutral status, and a significant portion of its land is protected as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
- Economy: Bhutan’s economy is primarily agrarian, with agriculture being a significant contributor to the country’s GDP. In recent years, efforts have been made to diversify the economy, including the development of hydropower projects and the promotion of tourism.
Bhutan is often referred to as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” due to the dramatic and awe-inspiring landscapes found throughout the country. It is a place where ancient traditions and modern development coexist, making it a unique and fascinating destination for travelers and those interested in exploring a distinct and culturally rich nation.
2.The second challenge in importing goods from China to Bhutan is customs clearance.
As mentioned earlier, one of the challenges in a landlocked country like Bhutan is the customs clearance process, which is more complex compared to coastal nations. In coastal countries, goods can be cleared directly at the seaport, but in Bhutan’s case, transshipment through ports in India or Bangladesh is required, making the customs clearance process more intricate.
If a container has arrived at the port but encounters issues with customs clearance, leading to container detention at the port, it becomes a significant headache. Container detention fees are expensive, typically around $300 per day, which constitutes a substantial loss for both customers and sellers. If the customs clearance issue persists, these costs can become substantial.
Yiwu Luhai Import & Export Co., Ltd., (www.luuksourcing.com) we already have some Bhutanese clients, and we can usually assist our customers in successfully clearing their goods. Drawing from our experience, here is a rough outline of the documents generally required for successful customs clearance of most goods:
If you want to successfully clear customs for your goods, the following documents need to be prepared:：
1. Commercial invoice
2. Packing list
3. Certificate of origin
4. Surrendered Bill of lading (with 21 days free time) please mention freetime on BL.
5. Marine insurance policy certificate from port of loading till kolkata port or till Bhutan.
6. Money receipt for ocean freight charges paid from port of loading till kolkata port.
Of course, these are the standard customs clearance documents for general products. For specific or specialized products, additional documents may be required to ensure a smooth customs clearance process. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact us directly.
3. The third challenge in importing goods from China to Bhutan is finding the reliable Sourcing Agent and Freight Forwarding Agents.
Whether you are looking to purchase goods from China directly in Bhutan or wish to visit China for procurement, finding reliable sourcing agent and freight forwarding agents is of utmost importance.
Sourcing Agents can assist you in sourcing a wide range of goods, and due to their expertise, they often secure prices that are significantly more favorable than what you might obtain through direct procurement. However, it is crucial to exercise discernment because some sourcing agents may quote you the factory price and charge only a commission, while others might add a markup to the factory price before presenting it to you.
The latter would not be considered a sourcing agent but rather an intermediary. To make this determination, it relies on your familiarity and experience with the products. You need to assess whether the price quoted by the sourcing agent is the genuine factory price or an inflated one.
If you find it challenging to make this judgment, you can consider partnering with us at Yiwu Luhai Import & Export Co., Ltd. (www.luuksourcing.com) as your trusted collaborator.
Finding a reliable freight forwarding agent is also of paramount importance, as a reputable agent can provide you with a highly cost-effective sea freight rate and ensure that your goods are transported without unexpected delays. In the event of any mishaps during transportation, they have the capability to assist you in resolving issues.
Generally, in international trade, transportation costs constitute a significant portion of the overall expenses. Additionally, some freight forwarding agents also offer customs clearance services. Different types of goods may have varying requirements for customs clearance, and experienced freight forwarding agents will inform you in advance of the necessary documentation and whether it is feasible for the sourcing agent to handle these documents.
This proactive approach helps prevent the awkward situation of encountering clearance problems once the goods have arrived at the port.
So, how do you find a high-quality freight forwarding agent?
Typically, you can conduct a local search on Google to find freight forwarding agents, and it’s advisable to compare several options.
Alternatively, you can reach out to us, and we can assist you in introducing reputable freight forwarding agents.
Our collaborative freight forwarding agents have not encountered situations where goods arrived at the port but couldn’t be cleared through customs.