Indo-China trade through Nathu La shut till June | india | Hindustan Times
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Indo-China trade through Nathu La shut till June

india Updated: Oct 01, 2006 11:11 IST
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Trade between India and China through this high mountain pass on the Silk Road, which opened after 44 years, closed over the weekend after registering business worth Rs.1.2 million ($26,100) since July.

"Trade between the two countries have closed for this year and would resume from June 1 until Sep 30 next year," Sikkim's Director of Industry and Commerce Saman Prasad Subba said.

As part of the formal closing of trade, at least 60 Sikkimese traders on Thursday crossed over to the Chinese mart at Renqinggang, 17 km from this border checkpost, to attend a function organised by Tibetan traders.

India and China on July 6 re-opened trade across the 15,000-foot-high Nathu La pass, 52 km east of Sikkim capital Gangtok, as part of a broader rapprochement.

The move marked the first direct trade link between the neighbours since their bitter border war in 1962.

"According to estimates, trade between India and China was about Rs.1.2 million," Sikkim Industry and Commerce Secretary CL Denzongpa said.

During the period, Indian traders sold goods worth about Rs 550,000 and the Chinese did business of about Rs 650,000.

Under an agreement reached between the two countries, trade takes places four days a week - Monday to Thursday - beginning June 1 each year and lasting until Sep 30 when snow makes the area impassable.

"The volume of trade through Nathu La in the first year itself may not be that high, but the mood was very positive and we would say this was a good beginning," Subba said.

Although the trade was slow this year, about 900 Chinese traders crossed the border separated by a rusty barbed wire marker to the bazaar of Sherathang, five kilometres below the pass on the Indian side, and about 400 Indian traders headed to Tibet on the Chinese side.

"I think it was a very successful attempt and by next year we hope to see business flourish," Sikkim Chamber of Commerce President S K Sarda said.

Under the deal to open the pass, 15 items were approved for import from China such as silk and yak pelts and horses, while India could export 29 items ranging from textiles to tea, rice vegetables and herbs.

Both China and Sikkim want the list of tradable items to be increased to help a booming trade across the roof of the world.

"Sikkim wants the list of items to be increased from 29 to 100 and include commodities like local beer, medicines, jam, processed food products, floriculture and horticultural products so that business grows," Sarda said.

The reopening of the pass comes as trade has surged between the neighbours with their combined consumer market of 2.3 billion people. Their bilateral trade grew by 37.5 percent to hit $18.73 billion last year, according to Chinese data.