After the Indian government included 12 more in the list of trade items, the trade between India and China is resuming with new hopes.
"This year only 34 persons have applied for trade passes," Mohan Singh Negi, tehsildhar of Pooh in Kinnaur district, told Hindustan Times.
Five days back, the first batch of five traders left for Shipki village in China-controlled Tibet. "Traders have not yet returned. Indian traders have set up exhibition of items being exported to China at Shipki village. It is from here that the Chinese traders buy Indian items and sell them further into villages in Tibet," Negi said.
This year, 12 new items, including carpets, spices, handloom stuff, religious material, herbal medicines, shoes and readymade garments, have been added to the trade list.
"This is for the first time the facility to obtain import-export trade has been extended to the traders," said Sarchander Negi, district industries officer, Kinnaur.
According to Negi, it is not mandatory for every trader to seek importer exporter code (IEC) which will help traders carry goods valued at more than Rs 25,000 without paying customs duty.
The government's move to include one dozen new trade items came following the poor trade record through Shipki La. Last year, between June 1 and November 30, the official trade period, 24 traders had exported goods worth Rs 5.77 lakh and imported Chinese goods valued at Rs 9.2 lakh.
Shipki La is a high mountain pass and border post on the India-China border at an elevation of 18,599 feet above the sea level. It is through this pass the Sutlej river enters India (from Tibet).
The trade on through Shipki La pass opened in 1993. It came to a halt after the Indo-China war in 1962.
But it is a fact that ever since the trade has resumed not even a single Chinese or Tibetan trader has visited the Indian side. Nanmgya village is the point fixed for trading in Indian side. Tibetan traders are apprehensive to travel to India in the wake of Chinese security clampdown on the borders. Also the Tibetans visiting India are being seen with suspicion in China, more because Tibet's spiritual and the temporal head the Dalai Lama was given asylum by the Indian government after he fled from Tibet in 1962 when the Chinse troops marched to Lhasa.
Indian traders carry items like agricultural implements, blankets, copper products, clothes, textiles, cycles, coffee, tea, barley, rice, flour, dry fruit, dry and fresh vegetables, vegetable oil, jaggerry and tobacco. They return with items like jackets, shoes, crockery, flasks, goats and Chumurthi horses.