Manila, Philippines (BBN)- Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are helping prepare a feasibility study for a road project in Bhutan that will ensure more balanced and sustainable economic expansion and poverty reduction in the less developed southern part of the country.

The Japan Special Fund, through ADB, will provide a $650,000 grant for the feasibility study, while Bhutan will extend $165,000 to complete funding requirement, an ADB press statement said on Tuesday.

The feasibility study will focus on a national highway in the southern corridor, as well as feeder roads in the middle of the corridor. The study will be the basis of a road project design for possible loan financing.

A land-locked country, road access plays a vital part in Bhutan’s trade and commerce. India is Bhutan’s biggest trading partner, accounting for around 90 per cent of the country’s imports and 70 per cent of its exports.

Currently, only the north-south road corridor located in western Bhutan connects the two countries. Bhutan’s exports to Bangladesh also travel through India.

BBN/SI/SS/AD-21October08-12:15 PM (BST)