China-India border trade at the Nathu-La Pass begins today after a three-week hiatus following a landslide in the region. The Nathu-La Pass which is part of the ancient Silk Route between the two countries is the highest trade route between India and China, the other two passes being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh (or Lipulech) in Uttarakhand.
Trading passes have been issued to traders on both sides of the border to permit the legal entry and exit of goods. Since trade is limited to the needs of the border areas, only specific items are permitted entry by each country. China permits the export of 15 items including goat and yak skin and hair, china clay, butter, common salt, horses, goats, and sheep while India permits 29 items to be exported to China including agricultural implements, blankets, copper products, clothes, cycles, coffee, tea, barley, rice, flour, dry fruits, vegetables, candy, tobacco, kerosene oil, stationery, utensils, wheat, liquor, milk processed product, canned food, cigarettes, local herb, palm oil and hardware.
The Nathu-La pass which was re-opened in 2006 following a hiatus after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, cuts the transport time for goods between India and China considerably and makes it much easier for traders who would have otherwise had to ship goods from Shanghai or Guangdong to either Kolkata or Mumbai ports. The Nathu-La Pass is now open from May 1 to November 30 every year following several bilateral agreements between India and China.
Besides allowing for the easy transfer of goods, the Nathu-La pass also allows for tourists and Buddhist monks in the region to travel easily between the countries. Connecting Tibet with Sikkim Buddhist monks can now freely travel to holy pilgrimage sites on both sides of the border.