India-China trade yet to pick up at Shipki La pass


Shimla : As the Shipki La pass opens again this year, trade between India and China is yet to pick up on the high Himalayan route after being revived 14 years ago.

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The 5,200-metre high Shipki La pass, some 300 km from here, lies on the banks of the river Sutlej in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. It opened to traders Friday after remaining closed for trade for some seven months due to snow, say officials here.

The two Asian giants have been trying to revive trade ties through the Shipki La and other such Himalayan passes to what it was prior to the 1962 war.

But T.D. Negi, manager of the Kinnaur district industries department, said: "Last summer, barely 18 traders applied for passes to trade with their Chinese counterparts in no man's land.

"Goods worth Rs.468,060 were exported to China while goods worth Rs.289,010 were imported by Indian traders," he said.

Indian traders sell wheat flour, rice, dry fruits, coffee, jaggery, pulses, herbs and spices. From the other side, woollen jackets, shoes, silk, crockery and electronic goods are purchased.

Trade on the Shipki La was restored in 1993 after being closed in 1962 following Chinese aggression.

Since last year, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been building a motorable road from the Indian side to connect the high pass. The police have set up a checkpost that is also manned by the customs department.