The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region now has 16 Class A ports, where foreign transport vehicles can deliver goods directly and trade may be conducted with any country. Two of them are airports and the remainders are land ports. There are also 11 Class B ports, where both US dollars and renminbi can be used to conduct transactions.
Xinjiang's geographical and human resource advantages are ideal for developing border trade. It shares borders with eight countries, including Russia and Kazakhstan. The local dialects are similar to those of several neighboring countries, and the peoples share similar religious beliefs and other customs.
In 1986, the former Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation -- the forerunner of today's Ministry of Commerce -- formally authorized the region to conduct border trade, mainly with former Soviet Union and East European states.
Between 1991 and 2000, bilateral trade between Xinjiang and five Central Asian countries grew at an average of 45 percent per year to a cumulative US$6.9 billion. Trade with Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan and Tajikistan account for 70 percent of the total.
Border trade used to be conducted solely in Class A economic cooperation zones such as Yining, Bole and Tacheng. In 1993, Xinjiang began approving the establishment of Class B ports to facilitate increased trade.
(China.org.cn December 15, 2004)