I was extremely pleased to meet His Excellency Mr. Luo Zhaohui, Ambassador of China to India this evening at Mintokgang.
His Excellency shared that the primary purpose of his visit to Sikkim was to improve upon the economic cooperation, vis -a -vis bilateral trade between the two countries through the Nathula corridor. He shared a few main concerns that could be addressed to improve border trade between the Sikkim side and Tibetan Autonomous Region :
– The number of hours per day of border trade could be increased.
– Both sides would benefit if trade would be open for seven days a week instead of the existing four days.
– Better efficiency and cooperation from the customs officials in the Indian side would facilitate better business for the traders.
– The stipulated items for trade could be increased to accommodate more items from both sides of the border.
– Free movement of officials and technical persons upto the trade marts on both sides of the border.
– Development of Nathula as a dry port to increase the volume of trade.
I thanked His Excellency for his visit to Sikkim and for his valuable observations to improve the border trade between the two countries. I welcomed his suggestions and assured to take up all the issues with the Government of India. I 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. I stated that Nathula today is a ‘smiling border’ due to the bilateral trade between the two countries. I also suggested some measures to improve the volume of trade and local economy on both sides.
I informed His Excellency that I have suggested to the Government of India to consider a bus service between Gangtok and Lhasa through Nathula. I said that 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. I also expressed my desire to visit China to gain insights from the economic superpower as China.
I also took the opportunity to share with His Excellency some of the unique initiatives taken by Sikkim , especially in environmental conservation.