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Kashgar cashes in on cross-border trade

This aerial photo taken on Sept 7, 2023 shows the ancient city of Kashgar scenic area in Kashgar, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Belt and Road Initiative has provided significant momentum to the development of foreign trade in the Kashgar region of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Located in the central region of the Eurasian continent, Kashgar was historically a crucial crossroads between East and West. It now serves as a vital international gateway for China's westward opening, connecting the country to Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and Europe.

A key node on the Silk Road Economic Belt, and the starting point for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway, Kashgar borders countries including Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan and has five open land ports, including the Khunjerab Pass and Karasu port, making it a unique location with five ports connecting eight countries.

In 2013, the Kashgar region's total foreign trade value region was 12.44 billion yuan ($1.7 billion). In 2022, the total import and export value was 49.31 billion yuan, 3.96 times that of 2013.

This year, Kashgar's foreign trade network has continued to expand. In the first seven months, the number of trading partners in the region increased from 91 to 116. Trade with the five Central Asian countries amounted to 38.43 billion yuan, an increase of 134.5 percent. Trade with countries involved with the Belt and Road Initiative reached 39.62 billion yuan, a growth of 129.4 percent.

From January to August, Kashgar's total import and export value is expected to surpass 50 billion yuan for the first time, exceeding the total import and export value for 2022.

The Kashgar Free Trade Zone was established in September 2014, and covers a planned area of 3.56 square kilometers. It officially began operations in April 2015 and is the only customs special supervision area in southern Xinjiang.

The free trade zone is an essential platform for the western opening-up of the Kashgar Economic Development Zone. In 2022, it achieved a cross-border e-commerce transaction value of 1.29 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 268.8 percent, and a total import and export trade volume of 28.28 billion yuan, an increase of 7.62 times.

On Sept 14, the Kashgar Free Trade Zone Cross-Border Zero Tariff Exhibition Center opened.