ASTANA – Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Integration, Serik Zhumangarin, and Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Ma Xingrui, discussed prospects for strengthening cooperation and overcoming emerging barriers in Urumqi, reported the Prime Minister’s press service on Aug. 21.
As the western gate of China, Xinjiang plays a critical role in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative, said Xingrui.
Last year, the total trade turnover of XUAR reached 246 billion yuan ($33.8 billion), including 119 billion yuan ($16.3 billion) with the Central Asian countries.
Xingrui emphasized the importance of bolstering the interconnectedness between the parties, mentioning that all border checkpoints and Almaty-Urumqi flights have resumed work.
“The efficiency of cargo traffic is increasing; the Khorgos checkpoint operates around the clock. The sides launched a green corridor for the passage of agricultural products,” said Xingrui, encouraging deepening trade and economic cooperation in rail and road transportation, creating new logistics centers, and increasing flight frequency.
Xingrui also proposed establishing cultural exchanges, creating an international business environment to attract entrepreneurs from Kazakhstan, and investing in Xinjiang and vice versa.
“We are interested in enhancing ties in culture and tourism, increasing the number of quotas for free education of Kazakh students in Xinjiang,” said Xingrui.
In turn, Zhumangarin expressed willingness to develop logistics, referring to the implementation of a logistics terminal project in Urumqi, which will become a cargo consolidator. He stressed the significance of enhancing air cargo turnover, passenger turnover, and e-commerce.
“During the China-Central Asia summit, a decision was made to build a dry port in Xian. … There is no need to limit our cooperation only to the development of railway and road crossings,” he said.
Zhumangarin also highlighted the forthcoming opening of the Lu Ban workshop, a Chinese project to train technical specialists using advanced Chinese technologies, at a university in the East Kazakhstan Region.
Commenting on the agriculture sector, Zhumangarin emphasized XUAR’s practical experience in water use and asked the Chinese side to share practices in irrigation, water saving, and spending systems.
Zhumangarin underscored the need to remove barriers obstructing trade relations, including restrictions on the export of Kazakh meat products to China due to concerns about animal diseases.
“The World Organization for Animal Health recommended confirming the status of five southeastern zones of Kazakhstan free from Foot-and-Mouth Disease with vaccination. We have sent several invitations to conduct an audit of the veterinary service of Kazakhstan and an inspection of Kazakh enterprises, but have not yet received a response,” said Zhumangarin.
Following the meeting, the parties agreed to create a map outlining trade barriers for joint efforts to eliminate them.
Last week, over 40 Kazakh companies showcased their products at the China-Eurasia Expo international exhibition in Urumqi.
Nearly 40% of all trade between Kazakhstan and China is attributed to XUAR. Trade turnover between Kazakhstan and XUAR in January-June reached $8.5 billion, which is 87.3% higher than in the same period last year ($4.5 billion).
Exports from Kazakhstan to XUAR in the first six months increased by 36.5% to $6.1 billion, as imports to Kazakhstan from XUAR experienced a 2.2-fold growth, reaching $6.2 billion.