Doklam effect: trade at Nathu La dips 90%

In 2017, exports dropped to ₹7.83 crore and imports to ₹1.02 crore.

The trade between India and China at the Nathu La border dropped by 90% in 2017 owing to the standoff at Doklam between the two countries.

According to the figures provided by the Department of Commerce and Industries, Government of Sikkim, the value of exports from India to China in 2016 was ₹63.38 crore and the import from China was ₹19.30 crore.

In 2017, exports dropped to ₹7.83 crore while imports from China dipped to just ₹1.02 crore.

“In 2017, trade was closed for a few months because of Doklam. This year the trade reopened on May 1 but it has not returned to what it was in 2016,” Subrata Lakra, Superintendent of Customs at the Serathang land checkpost, told The Hindu.

In the first two months since trade resumed in 2018 — May and June — the value of exports was ₹7.3 crore and imports ₹0.45 crore.

Silk Route

Trade between India and China at Nathu La started in July 2006 when the Old Silk Route was re-opened. Since then about 100 traders from both sides have been crossing the Nathu La border, at an elevation of 14,140 ft, four days a week, Monday to Thursday. The border trade is allowed seven months a year, from May to November.

Ujjwal Rai, Deputy Secretary in Sikkim’s Department of Commerce and Industries, said the reason for a higher value of exports from India is because 36 articles are allowed to be exported from the country, while only 20 articles are allowed to be imported. Indian traders are allowed to carry goods valued at ₹2 lakh a day whereas Chinese traders are allowed to bring goods of the same value in Yuan, he added.

Mr. Lakra, who mans the checkpost till the point where Chinese traders are allowed on Indian soil, said that the primary articles that are imported include garments and shoes whereas textiles, processed food, blankets and wheat flour are the main exports from India.

Shanti Tamang, a young shopkeeper in Chipsu village, who buys woollen garments from Chinese traders, admitted that the trade had come down. “In 2017, there was hardly anything to trade. This year, we are buying anything between ₹5,000 and ₹10,000 per trip,” she said.

Not far from Nathu La is the Doklam plateau, connected by a road leading from the shrine of Baba Harbhajan Singh (also called Baba Mandir), a sepoy with 23 Punjab who went missing in 1968. On this road, the last inhabited Indian village is Kupup, where more than 100 families live.

Army trucks and scores of men in fatigues can be seen in the market of this village, which has not seen many outsiders since the Doklam standoff.

“We hear that the situation has improved at the top [Doklam]. But we are still tense here,” said a woman shopkeeper.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:21:27 PM |

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