Mizoram Gov’t Closes Indo-Burma Border Indefinitely

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The customs department of India’s Mizoram State has closed the border gate between the Chin State town of Rihkhawdar and Zokhawthar in Mizoram indefinitely, according to local businesspeople. The closure went into effect on Monday.

“I had heard that they were going to close the border gate, and today [July 15] they finally did. No Burmese goods can be imported into Mizoram, but people are still permitted to cross as usual,” said a Rihkhawdar-based businessman who spoke to Khonumthung News.

The reason for the move was unclear, but local traders said it might be due to a dispute between the Mizoram customs department and the Import-Export Code Holders Association Mizoram (IEC) over taxes.

Most local businesspeople from Rihkhawdar don’t have import-export licenses recognized by the Indian government, leading to complaints about illegal trading and lost tax revenue.

“The Indian authorities in Mizoram want to get illegal trading under control by requiring the use of official trading licenses. I don’t know if our government will issue such licenses, but it looks like the border will be closed until traders get licenses that are recognized by the governments of both India and Burma,” said Zo Din Ner, an advisor to the Rih Lentlang Youth Association, based in Rihkhawdar.

Uncertainty over when the border gate will reopen has raised concerns about the impact of the move on local businesses. If the closure last any more than two or three months, it is expected to significantly damage trade between the two countries, local sources said. As a consequence, the entire local economy will suffer, they added.

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FACEBOOK: The move is believed to be related to a dispute over trading licenses and lost tax revenue.

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