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Nathu La border trade to begin
Published on 2 May. 2009 11:57 PM IST
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The fourth season of the Nathu La border trade between India and China would resume from Monday for the year 2009. The border trade, presently limited to traders from Sikkim and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) had resumed on July 6, 2006, after a gap of 44 years. Now in its fourth year, the Nathu La border trade will officially begin from May 4. The Sikkim government has planned a low key celebration at the Sherathang Trade Mart near the border to mark the inaugural occasion at around 9 a.m. Traders from both Sikkim and TAR have been invited to participate in the inaugural occasion. “We are organising a small function on May 4 at the Sherathang Trade Mart,” Ujjwal Gurung, Director of the State Industries and Commerce department, said. Gurung will be leading the state delegation in the function where representatives from TAR have been invited. “Though we don't know who is coming from TAR, the function has been organised to mark the beginning of the fourth season of the Nathu La border trade,” he said. According to UNI report, deliberations on the road ahead for the border trade are expected to feature during the function to be attended by TAR and Sikkim traders. Meanwhile, reportedly some 50 applications have been submitted to the east district administration for trade pass by local residents here to participate in the fourth season of Nathu La trade. The trade passes are issued to the residents of Sikkim only which permits them to participate in the border trade. Last year the border trade had concluded on November 27 on an optimistic note with traders from both sides expecting more fruitful years. Sikkim had dominated the seven month long border trade last year with official records showing that the Sikkimese traders have managed to export items worth Rs 95 lakh to TAR. The TAR businessmen could only sell items worth Rs 1.35 lakh to their Sikkimese counterparts during the whole trading season. As per the bilateral agreement only scheduled items are allowed for the border trade. Most of the items listed in the schedule are obsolete and do not have commercial value, a fact which the both the Chinese and Sikkimese traders have been highlighted. Sikkim government has been demanding the Centre to revamp the list of items and put more commercially viable items to boost the border trade. Local business community here has also pressing for the revamp of the list of items and are very skeptic of the returns from the border trade as the same list of items are followed this season also. “The trade lists remains the same even for the current season allowing 15 items for import and 29 items for export from Sikkim and the list remains obsolete,” S K Sarda, president of the Sikkim Chamber of Commerce, said. The commerce body has urged the Union government to “review this list immediately so that a viable and vibrant trade can start over Nathu la.”

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