Kashgar to help promote further opening-up
The Kashgar Area of the China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which was unveiled recently, is expected to promote China's further opening-up to Asia and Europe.
Leveraging the advantages of international trade and logistics channels, the area will expand and strengthen its outward-oriented economy, with a focus on developing industries such as deep processing of agricultural and sideline products, textile and garment manufacturing, and electronic product assembly, according to the overall plan for the zone.
The pilot free trade zone in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region was founded on Nov 1.
It covers 179.66 square kilometers and comprises areas in Kashgar prefecture, Urumqi and Horgos.
The 28.48-sq km Kashgar Area will develop modern service industries such as international logistics and cross-border e-commerce, and create a commodity processing and distribution base connecting markets in Central Asia and South Asia.
"The area will follow high-standard international economic and trade rules, and deepen cooperation with neighboring countries in industries, resources, talent, technology and finance, in order to build a demonstration model for China's westward opening-up," said Nie Zhuang, Party secretary of Kashgar prefecture, at the unveiling ceremony on Saturday.
He added that efforts in reform and innovation will be intensified to build the Kashgar Area into "a high-standard, high-quality free trade zone with a favorable business environment, convenient investment and trade, clustered advantageous industries, shared resources and efficient management".
At the unveiling ceremony, the first group of 35 companies were issued business licenses with project funds worth more than 17.6 billion yuan ($2.4 billion), covering sectors such as trade and logistics, electronics information, new materials and automotive part processing.
Zhi Fu Holding Group from Guangdong province invested 2 billion yuan to build a hotel and a gold, diamond and jade trade center in Kashgar.
A Zhejiang-based trade company plans to invest 1 billion yuan to build an industrial park for manufacturing daily necessities, textiles, apparel and accessories.
"With good policy support, we are confident of prospering in the international market," Yang Caiping, chairman of the company, told Xinjiang Daily.
Located in southwestern Xinjiang, Kashgar prefecture has three ports and is close to two ports in the neighboring Kezilesu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture, linking eight countries including Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, and acts as a gateway to Russia and European countries.
Kashgar's total imports and exports surged 89.7 percent to reach 61.04 billion yuan from January to September, data from the local government showed.
Kashgar has trade relations with 128 countries and regions, of which more than 90 percent are those involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
On Nov 4, workers were busy loading trucks with products such as toys and decorative lights at the warehouse of Cathay Prosperity E-commerce (Xinjiang) Co Ltd in Kashgar.
With Christmas approaching, the company's business reached its peak season.
"The goods will be cleared through the Irkeshtam Port (Xinjiang) and arrive in Uzbekistan three days later," said Zhang Qi, general manager of Cathay Prosperity.
Since its establishment in 2020, the company has collected goods — mainly consumer electronics, clothes and shoes — from the Yangtze and Pearl river delta areas through cross-border e-commerce and then shipped them to Central Asia, Europe and other regions.
Zhang said that the company's distribution area has increased from 1,000 square meters to 6,000 sq m.
The company's trade volume was 280 million yuan last year, and as of the end of October, it has already reached 370 million yuan. It has set an ambitious goal of reaching 1 billion yuan this year.
"Our company benefits from Kashgar's unique geographical advantages. It is the best westward channel for China," Zhang said.
He added that the establishment of the pilot free trade zone will bring greater opportunities, as further optimization of policies can be expected to make trading more convenient.