This aerial photo taken on Nov. 8, 2023 shows a view of the Horgos Railway Port in Horgos, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Li Xin)
URUMQI, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Every month, Kazakh truck driver Salamat Abdilda travels several times between Almaty, the most populous city in Kazakhstan, and the port city of Horgos in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Five years ago, the trucker heard that a fortune could be made by delivering freight. He began transporting goods, including clothing and daily necessities, from Horgos to his country.
"Initially, I had to wait and stay in Horgos for 10 days, to load goods and clear customs. Now it only takes me two to three days," said Abdilda. "Dining and accommodation have also become more convenient in Horgos."
In the first three quarters this year, the road port of Horgos has achieved an import and export volume of about 1.36 million tonnes, up 115.3 percent year on year. Meanwhile, vehicles have entered and exited the road port 178,700 times, a yearly increase of 178.9 percent, according to Horgos Customs.
"Horgos is undergoing rapid development," said Abdilda, adding that he has used the income from freight transportation to buy his family a car.
Horgos, meaning "a place where camels pass" in Mongolian, was once a busy passage used by traders traveling along the ancient Silk Road. As a border pass, it dates back more than 140 years.
Nowadays, trains in Horgos are hailed as "iron camels." In the first 10 months of this year, over 6,400 China-Europe freight trains passed through Horgos, up 9.8 percent year on year.
Based in the comprehensive bonded zone of Horgos, international trade company Golden Katyusha imports raw materials such as flour and rapeseed oil from Russia and processes them into various food products, including noodles and cookies.
"China is a huge market with great potential," said Iurii Basargin, head of Golden Katyusha. The Russian businessman has been working in Horgos for many years.
"It is not difficult to buy Russian food in this city," said Basargin. "In recent years, Horgos has become bigger, with more high-rise buildings and shopping malls."
In the comprehensive bonded zone of Horgos, more than 300 companies have been registered this year in the fields of logistics, cross-border e-commerce, international trade and finance, among others.
The Xinjiang Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), the first in China's northwestern border regions, officially became operational this month. The FTZ includes three areas, and Horgos is one of them.
According to Zhu Hongjian, a staffer with the management committee of the comprehensive bonded zone of Horgos, the construction of the FTZ will play a great role in facilitating trade, and financial and personnel exchanges will be more convenient.
For Horgos Jinyi Group, an agricultural product wholesaler, the FTZ is expected to boost its trade to Central Asia and Russia, as more convenient and faster trade means better preserved taste of fruits and vegetables, said company chairman Yu Chengzhong.
"In Horgos, we can feel the country opening up wider, and there are more opportunities for businesses," said Yu.