Nathu La trade draws low response in its fourth season

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Nathula (Sikkim), May 9 (ANI): The fourth season of trade between Sikkim and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) through the Nathu La Pass of Sikkim has reflected disappointment among Indian traders who still haven't received travel passes since border trade was opened on May 4.

The travel passes of around 62 Sikkimese traders are still pending with the East district administration which is the prime agency to issue all such passes for the border trade causing a major disappointment.

Anil Gupta, General Secretary of Indo-China Border trade association of Sikkim said, " the low-key inauguration ceremony of May 4 and the delay of travel passes will create a unharmonious situation between the two countries and will refrain Indian traders from visiting the Tibetian side from next year."With the delay of travel passes a bitter international relation will be created affecting the trade. The identity of Sikkim will also be spoiled in the national scenario. The travel passes shouldn't have been delayed as it was declared officially that the international border trade would begin and every thing should have been well organized. Now because our traders can't go there creating a lot of disappointment on their side," he added.

Border trade between the two countries is also sluggish due to restrictions in tradable items. India can import 15 items from China including silk, yak pelts and horses, and export 29 goods that include textiles, tea, rice, vegetables and herbs.

Business people from both sides of the border are seeking a broadening of the list of items traded through the pass.

Kesang Diki, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) commerce official was unsatisfied with the facilities given to them on the Indian side and with the unfavourable weather causing further threat to their goods.

"When the fellow Indian traders come to our place to trade we provide all the basic necessities like carrying the good and picking from the bus stand and keeping inside the stall. We don't let them face problems but out here we face the trouble of carrying our own good to the mart. I also feel that a revamped list of items should be of prior concern if you want a good trade between India and China," she said.

In July 2006, the two Asian giants, re-opened trade across the Nathu La Pass as part of a broader rapprochement. The move marked the first direct trade link between the nuclear-armed neighbours since a bitter border war in 1962.

Under the agreement, trade takes place four days a week - Monday to Thursday - beginning May each year and lasting until November 30 when snow makes the area impassable.

Although two-way trade was slow in the first three seasons, about 1,900 Chinese traders crossed the border separated by a rusty barbed wire marker to the bazaar of Sherathang, five kilometers below the pass on the Indian side. About 1,200 Indian traders headed to the Rinchengang interim market in Tibet on the Chinese side, 16 km from the border, during the first three seasons. (ANI)

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