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Sikkim: Indo-China Border Trade Via Nathula Pass Suspended Indefinitely amid COVID Outbreak

Sikkim: Indo-China Border Trade Via Nathula Pass Suspended Indefinitely amid COVID Outbreak

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Gangtok, April 22, 2020:

The traditional Indo-China border trade that is held between Sikkim and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China via Nathula Pass has been deferred for an indefinite period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping across the world.

B S Panth, the Minister for Commerce and Industries, has informed that the Government has taken the decision to postpone the border trade for an indefinite period of time.

It is pertinent to mention here that the trading route is opened for 6 months each year and begins from the first Monday of the month of May and ends on last Thursday of November. Trading takes place on the weekdays. The Nathula Border Trade was resumed in 2006 and has heretofore continued for 14 years.

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The barter trade between the two Asian giants which was proposed to strengthen the relation began in 2006, 42 years after the Indo-China war of 1962. In recent months, it has served to strengthen the ties between the two countries. The main objective of the Nathula border trade was to accomplish favorable economic viability for Sikkim and the surrounding regions through trade, tourism and sustainable development. After the Indo-China pact in September 2018 for the opening of the Gangtok-Lhasa- Shigatse bus route, it was expected tp foster cultural ties between India and China.

Upon being contacted, a senior official of Commerce & Industries Department of Sikkim informed Inside Northeast that there is a possibility to defer the trade, directions are yet to be received as the country in under lockdown. The State Government will send its feedback in view of pandemic to the Ministry once the normal office will resume after lockdown. he added.

During the 2019 trading session, goods worth Rs 39.73 crore were exported by Indian traders against the import of readymade garments, blanket, carpets, shoes and quilts worth Rs. 3.16 crore.

The Indian traders have imported mostly six items from China via the Nathula pass: carpets, readymade garments, blankets, shoes, jackets and quilts. They have exported 13 items -- such as vegetable oil, rice, processed food, canned food, textiles, copper items -- from the border-trade between the Indo-Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. An impressive feat, considering the challenges posed by the climate and uneven terrain at the bordering areas.

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