Kashgar prefecture, in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, expects to facilitate China's further opening-up to Asia and Europe through a newly established free trade zone.
Kashgar, located in southwestern Xinjiang, has three ports and is located near two ports in neighboring Kezilesu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture, linking countries including Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. It also acts as a gateway to Russia and European nations.
Its total trade value surged 89.7 percent year-on-year to reach 61.04 billion yuan ($8.42 billion) from January to September, data from the local government showed.
The China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone was established on Nov 1. It covers 179.66 square kilometers and comprises areas in Kashgar prefecture, Urumqi and Horgos. The development has boosted the confidence and expectation of business owners conducting cross-border trade.
At the unveiling ceremony of the Kashgar Area of the zone in mid-November, a first group of 35 companies received business licenses with project funds worth more than 17.6 billion yuan, covering sectors such as trade and logistics, electronics, new materials and automotive parts.
Zhi Fu Holding Group from Guangdong province has invested 2 billion yuan to build a hotel and a gold, diamond and jade trade center in Kashgar.
A Zhejiang-based trading company plans to invest 1 billion yuan to build an industrial park to manufacture 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.
Leveraging the advantages of international trade and logistics channels, the area will expand and strengthen its foreign-oriented economy, with a focus on developing industries such as processed agricultural products, textile and garments, and assembled electronic products, according to the overall plan for the zone.
The 28.48-sq-km Kashgar Area will also 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.
He added that efforts in reform and innovation will be intensified to build the Kashgar Area into "a highstandard, high-quality free trade zone with a favorable business environment, convenient investment and trade, advantageous industry clusters, shared resources and efficient management".