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Xinjiang’s Pilot Free Trade Zone Sparks Surge in Trade Activities and Overseas Investments

Kashgar, February 02, 2024, The Europe Today: Jiang Zhidong, proprietor of a foreign trade company in Kashgar City, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has experienced a significant boost in business activities thanks to the establishment of the China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ). Last year, his company imported over 4,300 tonnes of coal from Kyrgyzstan, and within the first month of the new year, the company’s coal imports had already surpassed 4,000 tonnes.

The China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone, officially launched in November 2023, covers approximately 180 square km and includes three key areas in Urumqi, Kashgar, and Horgos. In just over two months since its establishment, the FTZ has attracted over 2,000 new business entities, including influential domestic and foreign enterprises, according to the regional department of commerce.

Jiang’s company is among the first to establish a presence in the FTZ Kashgar area. He plans to further expand his coal imports and is considering the construction of a new factory within the area for coal processing and washing.

Kashgar City, actively utilizing both domestic and international markets and resources, has been instrumental in promoting the development of the pilot FTZ. Towards the end of the previous year, the city launched its inaugural “overseas warehouse” in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. This marked the FTZ Kashgar area’s first overseas investment, with functions such as storing and circulating processing of overseas goods and exclusive facilities for customs clearance and inspection.

“After customs clearance, Chinese goods passing through here can be transported to Kazakhstan and European countries,” stated Muhtar Hiyit, chairman of the Federation of Industry and Commerce of Kashgar City.

Lyu Sheng, manager of an international supply chain company operating in the FTZ Kashgar area, highlighted their achievements, saying, “Last year, we exported over 3,000 domestically produced vehicles to Russia and Central Asian countries through this base, with more than 70 percent being new energy vehicles.” He added that the company anticipates exceeding 10,000 vehicle exports to these countries in 2024.

Kashgar has introduced cargo charter flights to Moscow and Cologne, with plans to extend cargo routes to several Central Asian cities in the future. According to statistics from Kashgar Customs, the total foreign trade volume of Kashgar Prefecture, where Kashgar City is located, reached 83.68 billion yuan (approximately 11.78 billion U.S. dollars) last year. This represents a year-on-year growth of 71.2 percent and accounts for 23.4 percent of Xinjiang’s total foreign trade volume. The China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone continues to play a pivotal role in fostering economic growth, trade activities, and overseas investments in the region.