China-Kaza­khstan zone cre­ates jobs, stim­u­lates trade

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS -

URUMQI — Marina has to cross an in­ter­na­tional bor­der ev­ery day for work, but the one-hour drive from her home in Yarkent, Kaza­khstan, to China’s bor­der town Khor­gos is worth it, con­sid­er­ing her monthly pay is 2,700 yuan ($400), an in­come above the av­er­age in her home­town.

As day breaks, Marina gets out of bed, has break­fast and hops into a cab to start a day of busy work at the China-Kaza­khstan Khor­gos Fron­tier In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Cen­ter. She be­gan to work as an in­ter­preter at a Chi­nese trade firm two months ago.

Marina re­ceives foreign clients and co­or­di­nates with rel­e­vant govern­ment de­part­ments of Kaza­khstan. Be­fore land­ing her job, she stud­ied Chi­nese for a year in Ili, Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, in North­west China.

Marina is not the only per­son who shut­tles ev­ery day be­tween the two coun­tries. Bor­der trade is boom­ing in Khor­gos, an an­cient town on the erst­while Silk Road.

Trade is grow­ing fast thanks to the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, pro­posed by China to deepen eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion through in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment.

Hun­dreds of in­ter­preters from China, Kaza­khstan and other coun­tries work at the Khor­gos cen­ter. In ad­di­tion to their salary, they some­times get a bonus.

“Back in my home­town, I can earn only half the money I get here,” Marina said.

The Khor­gos Fron­tier In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Cen­ter strad­dles the China-Kaza­khstan bor­der. It oc­cu­pies a to­tal area of 5.28 square km, with 3.43 sq km in China and 1.85 sq km in Kaza­khstan. It’s the first trans-bor­der in­ter­na­tional free trade zone in the world, and also China’s first unique eco­nomic zone “within the coun­try, but out of the ju­ris­dic­tion of its cus­toms”.

The cen­ter started its op­er­a­tions in April 2012. The move­ment of per­son­nel, ve­hi­cles and goods are un­re­stricted on

The work of­fers ... an op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple ... and broaden my hori­zons.” Lazarti , in­ter­preter and sales­man at the Khor­gos Fron­tier In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Cen­ter are en­ti­tled to pref­er­en­tial poli­cies, in­clud­ing tax­a­tion, at the cen­ter

its premises, and stores and vis­i­tors in the cen­ter are en­ti­tled to pref­er­en­tial poli­cies, in­clud­ing tax­a­tion. There are more than 4,000 stores, in­clud­ing 40 duty-free shops in the cen­ter, with a staff of 6,000.

Lazarti comes from Xin­jiang’s Tekes county. The 22-year-old eth­nic Kazakh found a job as an in­ter­preter and sales­man at the cen­ter af­ter grad­u­a­tion.

He also helps sell im­ported Kaza­khstan snacks such as can­dies and cook­ies, mainly to Chi­nese cus­tomers. He speaks Man­darin, Kazakh, and the Uygur lan­guages.

“The work of­fers me an op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple from other coun­tries and broaden my hori­zons. These ex­pe­ri­ences would hope­fully help me to start a business in the fu­ture,” Lazarti said.

At 6 pm, the bustling trade cen­ter is at peace. Af­ter a full day’s work, Marina jumps into a cab back to Yarkent, while Lazarti, bid­ding her farewell, walks to­wards his rented apart­ment on the Chi­nese side of the bor­der.

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