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Horgos Investment Guide

Updated:2017-10-9 10:11:17    Source:www.tannet-group.comViews:53

Horgos, a 136-year-old border crossing, was once a small and forgotten town in western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, along the border with Kazakhstan. Today, as a key border checkpoint for the Belt and Road, the city is undergoing a transformation.

Horgos can be reached via a 40-minute flight from Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, to Yining, followed by a 90-minute bus ride. The city is approximately a six-hour drive from Almaty, a Kazakh metropolis about 378 kilometers away. First-time visitors to Horgos are surprised by its economic development. Hotels, apartments, factories and parks are being built, reinventing the skyline of this former backwater. In the busy season from July to February, trucks line up on the road for hours to pass through the border.

Horgos is a truly growing city. There has been explosive development in the last few years. The zone offers a five-year income tax break and other favorable policies for companies. Last year, more than 2,400 companies were registered in Horgos. Local GDP in 2016 was 5.12 billion yuan (about 742 million U.S. dollars), up 278 percent from 2015.

Rare Model
In 1881, China and Russia signed a trade deal that turned Horgos into a border pass. It became a county-level city in 2014. Horgos's biggest lure is the China-Kazakhstan International Border Cooperation Center, which opened in 2012. The center is the world's first cross-border free-trade zone and the biggest duty-free shopping center in western China. It allows entry of citizens from any country with valid passport, exit and entry documents.

The center covers 5.28 square kilometers, about 3.43 sq km on the Chinese side and 1.85 sq km on the Kazakh side. Within the center, there are rows upon rows of wholesale stores, duty-free shops, warehouse and business centers. Visitors can purchase up to 8,000 yuan, or 1,500 euros, of duty-free goods from the center.

Horgos customs said that in 2016, the center saw more than 5 million visitors and over one million people visited the center from January to March in 2017.

A New Yiwu, and Even More
Most of the border trade between China and Kazakhstan is completed through Horgos. It is easier to get a border pass than a visa to go to other cities, such as Urumqi and Guangzhou. Central Asian buyers come for clothes, bicycle parts and porcelain products, while Chinese buy flour, biscuits and raw industrial materials from their neighbors.

The Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, covering 5.28 square kilometers, started construction in 2006 and opened as a destination for cross-border shopping in April 2012. It is the world's first cross-border free-trade zone and the biggest duty-free shopping center in western China. It allows entry of citizens from any country with valid passports or with exit and entry permits.

In the past five years, more than 4,000 tenants and 40 duty-free shops selling luxury brands have entered the center. It attracted a total of 5.43 million tourists in 2006 and 1 million in the first quarter of 2017. The purchasing volume of consumers from China and central Asian countries hits 5 million yuan (720,000 U.S. dollars) on average each day.

Promising Future
The rise of Horgos is a true testament to the increasingly popular Belt and Road Initiative. Horgos was once a busy passage used by traders traveling along the ancient Silk Road. The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2014 injected new vitality into the land port.

To attract more tourists, the center launched a self-service customs clearance passage on March 12, allowing people to pass through customs in 10 seconds with the aid of face and fingerprint identification devices.

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