Nathu La trade postponed till further date

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Gangtok, Apr 30 (UNI) The third season of Nathu La border trade between Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which was to commence from tomorrow, has been postponed by the Centre till further date.

The postponement of the Nathu La trade was intimated to the Sikkim government this evening by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries.

The Sikkim government had already prepared a formal inauguration ceremony at Sherathang Trade Mart to welcome the TAR traders on the opening day.

Confirming the postponement, state commerce and industries secretary M G Kiran told UNI that tomorrow's opening ceremony has been called off.

Sources informed that the Chinese government had requested its Indian counterpart for the postponement of the border trade as there have been numerous landslides and heavy snow along the roads in the TAR side. These would make it difficult for the traders from both sides to participate in the trade.

The reopening of the trade for the 2008 season has been fixed tentatively on May 19, said Ujwal Gurung, Director of the state industries and commerce department to UNI.

Local traders from Sikkim who have been participating in the border trade for the last two seasons took the last minute pull out in a positive note.

It should be good for the traders as they would be at risk in the landslides and heavy snow along the TAR side, said a local trader.

Even if the trading season was to begin from tomorrow, very few traders from Sikkim would have participated because there is no business to be done, he obsserved.

The reason for this low enthusiasm among the traders was due to the present list of trade items which they said were outdated with no market value. ''We could see that only new traders were more interested in applying for trade licenses while most of the previous traders had not taken much interest,'' said another businessman.

Army sources had already ruled out the possibility of trading taking place on May 1 based on two observations-heavy snow and Tibetan issue along the mountainous corridor of the Nathu La Pass.

The sources had told that China may only contemplate the border trade commencement after the Beijing Olympics are over.

UNI BG KK RL HS1923

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