Imphal, May 11, 2019:
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling met the Ambassador of China to India, Luo Zhaohui at Mintokgang who visited the state with the purpose to improve upon the economic cooperation and bilateral trade between the two countries through the Nathula corridor.
Luo Zhaohui shared some suggestions to improve border trade between the Sikkim side and Tibetan Autonomous Region which includes: increasing the number of hours per day of border trade and open trade for seven days a week instead of the existing four days to benefit both sides. Moreover, he stated that to facilitate better business for the traders, cooperation from the customs officials is needed from the Indian side. Further, it was also suggested to increase the stipulated items for trade to accommodate more items from both sides of the border, free movement of officials and the technical persons up to the trade marts on both sides of the border and development of Nathula as a dry port to increase the volume of trade.
Welcoming the suggestions, Pawan Chamling assured to take up all the issues with the Government of India. He said that the State Government would correspond with the Government of India for enhancing the number of days for trade to seven days a week. He also stated that Nathula today is a ‘smiling border’ due to the bilateral trade between the two countries.
CM Chamling also suggested some measures to improve the volume of trade and the local economy on both sides of the border.
The chief minister further stated that he has suggested the Government of India consider a bus service between Gangtok and Lhasa through Nathula as this would further strengthen the economy in the fringe areas on both sides of the border, and also boost tourism. This would be in line with the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage route through Nathula, which has opened up vistas of opportunities for pilgrimage and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Chamling also expressed his desire to visit China to gain insights from the economic superpower.
The Sikkim Chief Minister also took the opportunity to discuss some of the unique initiatives taken by Sikkim, especially in environmental conservation.