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Nathu-la import shoots up to Rs 1cr

- Revision of list of items for border trade boosts business
Traders at Sherathang Mart near Nathu-la on Thursday. Picture by Prabin Khaling

Gangtok, Nov. 29: The India-China bilateral trade through Nathu-la for 2012 ended today with merchants from Sikkim importing items worth more than Rs 1 crore after two consecutive years of zero purchase by them.

The import business has shot up after the Centre added at least five commodities — readymade garments, shoes, quilt (blankets), carpets and traditional medicine made in the Tibetan autonomous region — to the list of items that could be bought by the Indian traders.

The list was revised in May this year.

This time, there was an increase in the export also. The Sikkimese traders exported items worth nearly Rs 6 crore (the exact amount is Rs 59,881780 ), compared to last year’s figure of Rs 334.4 lakh).

“There has been a considerable increase in trade this year, especially in import which was zero in the two previous years. The main reason for the jump in the business is the addition of new items to the list of commodities for import and export,” said Sumita Pradhan, the joint secretary of Sikkim commerce and industries department.

The data provided by the customs office in Gangtok showed that the Sikkimese traders had purchased items worth Rs 10146622 this year.

Earlier, the Indian merchants used to complain that most of the items allowed for the trade were of low commercial value. This year’s trade had begun in May.

On the last day of the business today, 46 vehicles carrying Chinese traders reached Sherathang Mart. The Indian merchants crossed over to Rinquingang Trade Mart in Tibet in 16 vehicles.

“Since it was the final day of the trade, we (the Indian traders) presented khadas to the Chinese merchants and exchanged gifts promising to keep the spirit of the trade intact next year also,” said the general secretary of the Nathu-la Border Trade Welfare Association, Lakpa Sherpa.