Bhutan - Future trends

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Problems with the Lhotshampa population seem likely to continue into the 21st century. Unless the Bhutanese government finds an amicable solution to this problem, Lhotshampa militancy is likely to intensify. Similarly, the security issue of the presence of Assam independence insurgencies on Bhutanese territory needs to be addressed in order to avoid embittering relations with militarily powerful India. This point is all the more important due to the ongoing flow of free trade with India. Bhutan is highly dependent upon developments within India's economy. As a result, levels of integration with the world economy will closely follow those of India. Planned membership of the WTO will exacerbate Bhutan's economic openness.

In 2001, Bhutan's excellent environmental conservation and balance meant that the economy had greater ability to use its forestry and hydroelectricity resources. For example, while the government insists that 60 percent of the country remain forested, the 2000 coverage of 72 percent indicated room for increased use without compromising governmental policy. Similarly, the 3 hydroelectricity plants to be completed early in the 21st century are projected to contribute vast amounts of government revenue without significantly damaging the environment. This revenue is intended to support human-centered development. If the government remains true to these policies and continues to widen political freedoms, Bhutan has a bright political, social, and economic future.

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