The trade between India and Tibet Autonomous Region has increased 10 times since the Nathu La Treck, bordering TAR and Sikkim, opned in 2006.
According to officials from China, the regional government is now planning to boost the cross border trade between China and bordering nations, Nepal and India, to spur the development in western parts of China. These regions have been left out in the growth story of China.
The trade in TAR was elevated by 88 percent mostly driven by the trade with Nepal, 95 percent of it and rest made up by Sikkim. Overall, Tibet reported $254 million of border trade in the first eight months of this year.
Su Yuanming, an official at the regional commerce department of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government, told the official Xinhua news agency the government would invest more in boosting cross-border trade. “Such cross-border cooperation [with India and Nepal] is conducive to Tibet’s economic development and the overall growth of China’s underdeveloped western regions,” he said.
Mr. Su said more businesspeople had invested in Tibet following increased economic cooperation with India and Nepal. Trade across the Sikkim border reached 16.3 million yuan ($2.44 million) in 2009, more than a ten-fold increase from 2006. The reopening of the Nathu La Pass between Sikkim and Yadong county in Xigaze (Shigatse in Tibetan) was the reason behind the growth, he said.
China’s western regions, including Tibet, Xinjiang and southwestern Yunnan, have left behind in development compared to their Eastern region. The Chinese government has started its policy of Go West “to bring there under developed regions at par with rest of the developed regions of the country.
Investment in the western China is the need of an hour for the Chinese government. It has got strategic benefits too. To counter Indian influence China has begun work on expanding the Karakoram Highway which runs to Pakistan. They also announced to build an Economic Development Zone in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to boost cross-border trade and make the city a hub for Central Asia.
In Tibet, the government recently announced it would spend 50 billion yuan ($7.5 billion) in the next five-year plan on highway construction, increasing the length of highways from 58,000 km to 70,000 km by 2015.