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Opening of Nathu-la Pass to Boost Indo-China Trade

May 21, 2008

By Prakash Dubey
Commodity Online
May 20, 2008

SILIGURI -- The India-China border trade through the famous silk
route or Nathu-la pass in Sikkim resumed after a gap of five months
marking the end of winter in the region.

It may be noted that the Nathu-la route had been used for millennia
for trade between India and Tibet. But the trade abruptly stopped in
the wake of Chinese aggression against India in 1962.

However, the trade began in July 2006 when India and China inked a
treaty for the same. The year 2006 witnessed a trade of some two
million rupees while it hopped up to 2.6 million in 2007.

According to Ujjwal Gurung, director of industry and commerce
department of the Sikkim government, the route was to reopen on May
first this year, but had to be postponed because of massive
landslides in Yadong county in the Tibetan territory of China. This
route would remain open till November 30.

However, even this year India Union government has not revised or
enhanced the items in the trade list and so the trade would remain
static like the past. The existing trade list contains only 15 items
that can be imported from China and 29 items that can be exported to
China from India.

Traders engaged in the Nathu-la trade say that most of the items on
the list are old and obsolete and the Union government has remained
dumb to the demands from traders on both the sides and even Chinese
officials to expand the items of trade so that the needful things
could be bought and sold.

Chimi Rinzing Bhutia, the chairman of the Indo-China Traders'
Association of Sikkim, laments the Indian Union government's attitude
remarking "Trading has been poor in the last two seasons. It will not
improve much till the list is expanded."

Rice is a major export item from India but this year it won't be
exported in the light of the ban on the export of the non-Basmati
category since October last year.
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