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Huge Market Potential at China-Pakistan Border

Kashi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is an ancient city that lies on the Old Silk Road. The city established a trade market Wednesday at its border with Pakistan to facilitate business activities between the two sides.

The market, covering an area of 1,700 square meters, is located on the Hunqrap Pass near the China-Pakistan border.

Kashi officials said some preferential policies had been adopted to encourage business.

For example, business people are exempt from paying a tariff if their daily turnover is less than 3,000 yuan (US$360), said Chen Ji, vice mayor of Kashi.

The border trade market will be open every Tuesday and Wednesday.

"In the future, we will take measures to improve policies and facilities relating to the market and gradually develop it into a free trade area between China and Pakistan," said Chen.

Kashi, located in the southwestern part of Xinjiang, has a history of more than 2,000 years. More than 90 percent of its population are ethnic Uygurs.

Situated strategically at the junction of the southern and northern routes of the Old Silk Road, historically it was an important trading stop for merchants from many parts of the world plying the trading route.

The city is now planning to take advantage of its geographical position to develop a trade center linking China to other Central Asian countries.

Xinjiang neighbors eight countries: Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, India and Turkmenistan.

Besides developing trade ties with its neighbors, the city is also making efforts to provide access for companies in China's coastal areas to develop business relations with these countries.

The TV manufacturer HiSense from Qingdao in east China's Shandong Province has set up a television assembly line in Kashi. The factory has become an important base for the company allowing it to more easily export TVs to neighboring countries, said Yalikun Mahanmut, mayor of the city.

Pakistan has also set up a Zakun International Trade Center in Kashi, the mayor added.

(China Daily June 16, 2005)

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