Just days before India and China pulled back their respective troops from the area thereby effectively ending the Doklam standoff, trade resumed between Indian and Chinese traders at the Shipki La border outpost, located on the Himachal Pradesh border, which is India’s second trading post with Tibet after Nathu La located in Sikkim. The trade usually begins on June 1 and lasts until November 30, after which the higher reaches of the Himalayas become snow bound, has been delayed this year amidst greater scrutiny of the traders by the Indian government. This year only 43 traders of the 99 who had applied got clearance from the government, down from 96 of 99 traders who had applied last year, according to an Indian Express report.
Eight Indian traders have made the first trip to Tibet in two batches, most of the villagers who made the trip were from Namgia village located in the Kinnaur district of the state. Gurdev Singh, a trader from Namgia village told the Indian Express said that they received a warm welcome on the other side of the border. Singh said ”The tension is only seen on television channels, when we crossed over to the Tibetan side we were welcomed and our stay was made comfortable. The traders from across the border also placed orders for our next trip.”
Gurdev Singh added that he was assured that the tension on the border will not affect the trade. In fact, the Indian traders were asked ”Bhai, late kyun (Brother, why are you late)”? Another group of Indian villagers crossed over to the Tibetan side of the border on August 30, as per the report.
The president of the Kinnaur India-China Traders Association, Hishey Negi told IE, that the trade between the two nations through Shipki La, is restricted to consumable items, although there is a demand for luxury items like such as watches. The trade between the two nations is small and has not exceeded Rs 9 crore, this year the volume of sales is not expected to cross Rs 3 crore mark. The trade is dependent on barter system and currencies are not used, as per the report