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Trade with China through Sikkim begins tomorrow

Written by: Staff
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Gangtok, July 5 (UNI) Nathu La, the famed ancient silk route connecting two Asian giants will reopen tomorrow after 44 years for fresh border trade between India and China.

The trade, between the two countries, was closed soon after Sino-India conflict in 1962.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Chairman C Phuntsak will cutt ceremonial ribbon on the Indian side of the border to mark the historic event that opens up a new diplomatic channel for cooperation, development and friendship between the two emerging economic powers of Asia.

Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi, TAR Vice Chairman Haopeng, GOC 17 Mountain Division Maj Gen K T Parnaik are expected to attend the function.

Ministers from Sikkim, top bureaucrats of the central and the state governments, businessmen, army personnel, mediapersons would also assemble at Nathu La, at an altitude of 14,200 foot, to witness the event.

With the reopening of the trade route, Nathu La will become the third point for border trade after Shiklela in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh in Uttaranchal.

After the route was declared open, about 100 Indian traders would cross over the international border and visit the Reqingaang trade mart in China and an equal number of Chinese traders would visit the Sherathang Mart in the Indian side.

Mr Chamling is scheduled to launch the trade mart at Sherathang, constructed for conducting the border trade 5 km down the road from Nathu La at a separate function.

The first step to reopen the icy pass for border trade was taken after both the countries signed an MoU during the visit of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to China in June 2003.

After holding several rounds of discussions, overcoming many geo-political bottlenecks and exchange of delegates by the two countries finally, a six-member delegation led by Union Additional Secretary Commerce Christe Fernadez finalised July 6 for reopening of the trade route through an agreement with the TAR authorities at Lhasa last month.

The decision indicated the change of Chinese attitude to India and its sincerity to improve the bilateral relations.

Sikkim, the land locked Himalayan state with no rail and air connectivity, whose conomic proposerity was adversely affected after the trade route was closed, has been constantly demanding for its reopening for over a decade now.

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