Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bhutan's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy is Hard to Find

Let's try Nepal then...
Imagine for a second that you are a wealthy foreigner who, after hearing all about Gross National Happiness, suddenly has the urge to invest your enormous fortune in a new business in Bhutan. Naturally, you need to do some research. So there you are, sitting in your living room by the fireplace (or beside your private infinity pool), perhaps draped in your posh silk pajamas, with the shining new iPad 3 on your lap. You start surfing the internet looking for relevant information on foreign investment in Bhutan.

You go to Google and look for "foreign investment in Bhutan". The first result comes from asiaone.com: Bhutan unable to attract foreign investment. Oops! Not exactly what you were looking for.

So you try again: perhaps throw in the word "direct"? This time you search for foreign direct investment in Bhutan. The first result is a page from the website of Bhutan Majestic Travel, a Bhutanese tour operator. It's a news article. So you keep on searching for the policy. But it's not there. In fact, the first page of results - and most users do not look beyond the first page - has links from Bhutan Times, from an Indian newspaper, from OL Tshering Tobgay's blog, even from the National Council's website. But the results do not include the policy. You finally give up and start looking for other opportunities.

The sad truth is that the policy is available online, at the GNHC's website. But the GNHC website is not search-engine friendly. Google has a hard time understanding what's in that website. When someone searches for the FDI policy, Google returns links to websites which it thinks are more relevant to "FDI in Bhutan" than GNHC.

Many Bhutanese webmasters are not familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the art and science of making your website search-engine-friendly and improving your website's ranking. If you are interested in the topic, Google has a good Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

Final note: If you reached this far, you're also welcome to read the Foreign Direct Investment Policy, 2010.