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Nathu La border trade remains a no show this year, too

August 21, 2010

Businessmen blame it on obsolete items on trade list.
List of items that are allowed to be traded
between Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region.
Karma Samten Yangzom
The Business Line
August 18, 2010

Gangtok, Aug. 18 -- Barely three months are left
for this year's Nathu La trade to end, but there is very little to show for.

The fifth season of the Nathu La border trade
between Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region in
China continues its jinxed run with no imports
taking place since the border opened for this
year in May. Indian traders have recorded
abysmally low business transactions — the same as the pervious years.

Reports of the State Commerce and Industries
Department says that exports from Sikkim have
been averaging at Rs 35 lakh a month but there
has been consistent recording of absolutely nil imports.

For the second consecutive year, the import
figures have remained at a dismal zero till date.

As for exports, May saw the highest figures at Rs
45 lakh. The largest item of export was vegetable
oil at Rs 18 lakh. The lowest was cigarettes at
just Rs 3,000. In June, exports were to the tune
of Rs 36 lakh with the largest item of export
being vegetable oil at Rs 16 lakh while the
lowest was tea at Rs 32,750. In July, exports
stood at Rs 35 lakh. This time the largest item
of export was canned food at Rs 8 lakh and the lowest was tea at Rs 85,000.

Last year too the Nathu La border trade closed with zero imports.

Traders on both sides of the border have
attributed this lopsided business transaction to
the list of tradable items, which do not cater to modern needs.

According to the bilateral agreement in 2006,
only 29 items can be exported to TAR from the
Indian side while Chinese traders can export 15 items.

Most of these items do not have commercial value,
a fact both the Chinese and Sikkimese traders
have highlighted in the past four years. The
demand to alter the list is yet to be heeded by the Centre.

Sikkimese traders have reiterated that the old
list of items has no commercial value.

They have been demanding a revision and expansion
of the import-export list for increasing the volume of border trade.

The Sikkim Government, through the nodal State
Commerce and Industries Department, has
repeatedly written to the Centre seeking an
enhancement of the list of items allowed for trade.

However, recent reports have suggested that the
Central Government has made it clear that there
can be no increase in the list for this season,
especially as there has been no proposal for
enhancement of the list from the Chinese side.

The trade is due to close on November 30 for this session.

Apart from pharmaceutical products such as Borax
and Czebeilyte, textiles, utensils, canned food,
tea and vegetable oil, which are not in the list
of items, have been the most popular export items.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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