ALMATY REGION – The Centre of International Cross-Border Cooperation (ICBC) in Panfilov district’s Khorgos recently held its first bilateral trade fair. The fair attracted tens of thousands of customers who perused the goods of more than 500 Chinese and 50 Kazakh companies.
Trading without borders is the main idea of the ICBC. The centre, which has not been fully commissioned, nevertheless gives a powerful impetus to the development of the border zone. A 30-day visa-free regime means people, commodities and vehicles can move freely between the Kazakh and Chinese parts of the centre. Goods imported to Kazakhstan are duty-free if their value does not exceed 1,500 euros and they weigh no more than 50 kilogrammes.
Residents of the Almaty region who might have travelled over 600 kilometres, crossing the border to Urumqi in China, now have an opportunity to buy the same goods for the same prices on their home territory. A bus route between Almaty and Khorgos and a train route from Almaty to Altynkol have been opened with them in mind. During the week-long fair, 17 hotels in the small district centre of Zharkent provided their services to tourists.
Representatives from the factories of Guangzhou, Beijing and Urumqi brought clothing, shoes, electronics, household appliances, auto parts and toys that passed strict quality control to the fair. Kazakh food, including confectioneries, pasta, beverages and natural honey were in great demand among Chinese buyers.
The transit capacity of the ICBC exceeds 10,000 people a day. The trading houses Su Xin, Jiang Yuan and Zhong Ke have been opened on the Chinese side of the border, as well as an ethnographic park of all member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and an international tourist centre. According to Chairman of the Administrative Committee of FEZ Khorgos Huang Ji Yue, China’s total investment in the project exceeds $3 billion. Kazakhstan, with state support, has already prepared all the necessary infrastructure for trade stands and tourist, sport and industrial facilities. Private investors are provided with numerous benefits.
As President of ICBC Khorgos Askar Khamitov noted, businessmen from Russia, Belarus and the countries of Western Europe showed an interest in the trading platform and in opening offices there. From now on, the centre plans to hold fairs on a regular basis.