Friday, July 06, 2007

Sikkim Nathula trade: Expansion of trade basket vital

Gangtok:Sikkim commerce and industry minister R.B. Subba sounded upbeat about the future of India-China trade through Nathu-la at a programme held here today to commemorate the first anniversary of the reopening of the mountain pass.
The trade route was reopened on July 6, 2006, after a gap of 44 years.
The minister asked Sikkimese traders not to be disappointed over the low volume of trade so far. “It will change with time,” he told his audience at Chintan Bhavan.
Subba added that the greatest outcome of the reopening of the mountain pass was the cementing of ties between India and China.
“Nathu-la showed the way in establishing trading ties between the two countries through the Northeast,” the minister said.
He also reiterated the Centre’s decision to expand the list of items that can be traded through Nathu-la.
Earlier, the director of the commerce and industry department, S.P. Subba, placed a report of trading activity through Nathu-la in 2007. He said the volume of trade in May was Rs 3.47 lakh, all of it comprising exports from India.
In June, according to data available with the commerce department, till the 24th of the month exports stood at Rs 1 lakh, while imports from China were Rs 32,900 comprising only yak tails.
The customs department, however, put the total worth of exports for June at Rs 3 lakh.
"Expansion of the trade basket at the earliest is a must to stimulate trade exchanges between the two countries through the route," Indo-China border trade association of Sikkim general secretary Anil Kumar Gupta said.
Describing the trade volume through the route as negligible so far, Sikkim Chamber of Commerce (SCC) President K Sarda said: "The Union Commerce ministry should decide immediately to make the trade list more pragmatic in order to make border trade through Nathula vibrant."