Cross-border trade through Shipki La touches new record

India-China cross-border trade through Shipki La pass in Kinnaur district has touched a new record for the first time in the history with the total turnover of Rs 5.33 crore, registering a growth of 380%.

punjab Updated: Nov 29, 2013 18:17 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times

India-China cross-border trade through Shipki La pass in Kinnaur district has touched a new record for the first time in the history with the total turnover of Rs 5.33 crore, registering a growth of 380%.

In spite of the Indian government’s decision to ban the livestock import, which was the major component of the bilateral trade, this time goods worth Rs 3.28 crore were imported from China.

According to officials of the industry department, trade figures are likely to increase as there are two more days to go for the closure of the trade.

“The trade figures are expected to go up marginally as the trade will come to an end after two days,” general manager, industries, Kinnaur, Ved Sharma told the Hindustan Times.

This year, trade items valuing Rs 2.03 crore were exported by the Indian traders living in border villages of Kinnaur and tribal Lahaul and Spiti villages.

Last year, the trade between the two neighbours registered a record turnover of Rs 1.4 crore, the highest since it resumed in 1994. The total volume of business in the opening year was Rs 25 lakh, which included Rs 11 lakh worth of exports. About 90 traders from Indian side visited China in the first year.
In 2012, as many as 45 traders from Kinnaur made 180 trips since September when the trade started officially. The data available with the state industries department revealed that last year, goods worth Rs 90 lakh were exported, while Rs 62-lakh import was registered.

Figures compiled by the industries department revealed that last year alone, 23,000 kg of tobacco was exported to China, while Chigu goats reared in the villages of China controlled the Tibetan Autonomous Region. As many as 2,000 goats were brought from China last year. Chigu is reared for its wool and soft meat.

However, the Indian government’s decision to ban import of livestock had dashed the hopes of the merchants, particularly those in China.

In July, the Customs Preventive Commissionerate, Amritsar, had informed the Kinnaur district authorities about the ban on livestock import.

Chigu goats and Chamurthi horses known for its sturdiness in the hostile terrain were in great demand from China. The traders repeatedly took up the matter with the authorities concerned to allow livestock trade, but to no avail.

Expansion of the trade list is also one of the factors that contributed to the trade – that traditionally was carried on barter system. The central government had added 12 more items to the trade list, including carpets, spices, handloom stuff, religious material, herbal medicines, shoes and readymade garments. Earlier, the trade was limited to 15 items.

The Kinnaur district administration this time had issued passes to 59 traders. “This year, the number of traders was more than last year,” Kinnaur deputy commissioner JM Pathania said, adding that the district administration had redressed the issue of traders in time. The traders were resentful about repeated checks at various points.

Shipki La is a high mountain pass and the border post on the India-China border at a height of 18,599 feet above the sea level. It is through this pass the Sutlej river enters India (from Tibet).Though the trade witnessed a new high this time, the fact remains that not even a single Chinese or Tibetan trader has visited the Indian side, ever since the resumption of trade.

Trade through Shipki La

Trade was closed after 1962 conflict
Border post for traders was thrown open in 1994
Total volume of trade in first year touched Rs 37 lakh
90 traders from India visited China in 1990
12 new items were added to trade list in 2012
Govt bans livestock import in July, 2013
New trade record set up with turnover of Rs 1.4 crore in 2012
23,000 kg of tobacco exported in 2012
Not even a single Tibetan and Chinese trader has visited India so far

First Published: Nov 29, 2013 18:16 IST