Free trade zone opens on the Tajik-Chinese border

11/07/2016 14:22
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, July 11, 2016, Asia-Plus – A free trade zone has opened on Tajikistan’s common border with China.

“The free trade zone will begin operations on both sides of the Kulma border-crossing checkpoint in the near future,” Khudoberdi Kholiqnazar, Director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of Tajikistan, told reporters in Dushanbe on July 11.

“Currently, working groups of Tajikistan and China are actively working on this subject,” Tajik think tank head noted.

According to him, the Chinese have already built a huge terminal on their side of the Kulma border-crossing checkpoint.  “Similar terminal will be also built in our territory in the Murgab district of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO),” Dr. Kholiqnazar said.      

“With creation of the free trade zone on the Tajik-Chinese border Tajik entrepreneurs will do not need any more to travel to the Chinese cities of Kashgar and Urumqi for goods.  They will be able to purchase all necessary goods at the terminal.” 

“Besides, the terminal will be provided with electronic trade system and entrepreneurs will be able to order any goods through Internet,” Kholiqnazar noted.  

The Kulma border-crossing checkpoint is the only overland border crossing along the 450-kilometer boundary between the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China.

Opened in 2004, the Tajik-China trade route runs from Khorog, the capital of Gorno Badakhshan in southeastern Tajikistan, over a high-altitude plateau and then down into China, where it ends in the city of Kashgar, 700 kilometers away.

Tajikistan and China reached an agreement on a year-round operation of the Kulma border-crossing checkpoint on December 29, 2011 but it became possible only in 2012, when all necessary conditions were created to ensure the year-round operation of the Kulma border crossing.

The Kulma Pass is a mountain pass across the Pamir Mountains on the border between the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China.  Asian Highway AH66 runs through the pass.

The pass opens from the north to the southeast, and is 500 m wide from north to south and 1 km in length from east to west with a gentle incline not exceeding 20 degrees.  On the Tajik side, the pass is 80 km by road to Murgab. On the Chinese side, the pass is 13.9 km from Karasu, a port of entry on the Karakorum Highway which leads to Tashkurgan (60–70 km) and Kashgar (220 km). 

A free trade zone (FTZ) is a specific class of special economic zone.  They are a geographic area where goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and re-exported without the intervention of the customs authorities.  Only when the goods are moved to consumers within the country in which the zone is located do they become subject to the prevailing customs duties.

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