Nathu la opens for trade
New Delhi, July 6
This is the third border trade point between the two countries, the other two being Lipulekh pass in Uttaranchal and Shipki la in Himachal Pradesh.
This correspondent interacted with experts like former Foreign Secretary Shashank, JNU Professor Alka Acharya, General Shanker Prasad (retd) and Mr P.Stobdan of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on the Nathu la development. All four welcomed the move but opined that the opening of a trade route in a politically sensitive state like Sikkim could throw up several important political and strategic issues in the long term.
Mr Stobdan, who is a security analyst, went to the extent of saying that India stood to gain nothing from the Nathu la border trade point, which China would use as a transit point for sending its cheap goods to Arabian seaports.
Mr Stobdan said Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling had gone ahead with the Nathu la trade point ignoring widespread resentment among the Sikkimese. The mutually agreed list of commodities for border trade between the two countries presently includes only 29 items for exports from India to China and 15 items of import into India from China. He said there was virtually nothing which India could send to Tibet.
The border trade through Nathu la resumed today at the Changgu border trade mart at Sherathang on the Indian side and, Renqinggang trade mart on the Tibetan side.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the border trade mart would remain open from June 1 to September 30 every year.