Sikkimese, Tibetan traders bid farewell as Nathu La

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Gangtok, Nov 30 (UNI) The second year of Nathu La border trade between Sikkim and Tibetan Autonomous Region(TAR) ended on an emotional note here with traders from both sides biding goodbyes with a promise to return next year at the Sherathang Trade Mart.

As temperatures dipped at the 13,000 ft high Trade Mart yesterday, Sikkimese and Tibetan traders embarked on a lengthy merry-making session, only after traders made brisk business today on the last day's trade at the Sherathang Trade Mart .

Sherathang Trade Mart resembled a high altitude picnic spot as the Tibetan traders distributing food and sweets inviting the Sikkimese traders, tourists and the officials to join the festivity.

Yesterday's business marked the end of the second year of Nathu La border trade, since it resumed on July 6, 2007, after a period of 44 years.

Official figures stated the total business done during these seven months along the mountainous corridor as being about Rs 34.6 lakh. Sikkimese traders managed to export items worth Rs 27.8 lakh, while Tibetan traders came in second by notching business worth Rs 6.8 lakh.

Meanwhile, both Sikkim government and TAR officials pledged to move towards a much bigger Nathu La trade in a meeting organised by Indo-China Traders' Association of Sikkim(ICTAS) at Sherthang trade mart.

TAR commerce head Tshering Choden interacted with Sikkim Commerce and Industries Department officials at Sherathang and presented her views. ''The present list of 29 items for export and 15 items for import is old and is difficult to do business,'' Ms Choden told the Sikkim officials.

''If next year, this list of items are not cancelled and a new list not brought out, business will be hampeed,'' she said.

Ms Choden also told the Sikkim team that TAR authorities had to pressure their people to send to Sherathang as business was not forthcoming due to the list of items. Our people come back empty handed and they even cannot meet their vehicle's fare, she said.

The TAR official said China wants the Nathu La trade to retain its old glory and hoped that a huge business happens from this Silk Route.

Expressing happiness over this year's improved business, Ms Choden said both sides should work towards improving the 2008 season in the next five months.

In response, Ujjwal Gurung, Director of the state industries department said the Sikkim government had already sent a reviewed list of items to the Centre. ''We are optimistic that it will be done for the next year, he said. The other complaints of the Tibetan traders will also be sorted out,'' he assured.

Both sides also assured each other to put pressure on their respective Central governments from their levels for improving the Nathu La border trade.

UNI

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