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Xinjiang gets more support in policy

By Shao Wei  (China Daily)

10:30, October 10, 2011

URUMQI - The process of opening-up linking the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with China's central and south Asian neighbors is set to accelerate, as the State Council on Saturday unveiled guidelines giving more support to the construction of two economic development zones in western and southern Xinjiang.

Under the guidelines posted on the central government's website, the State Council will adopt measures such as fiscal subsidies and tax breaks to facilitate the construction of the Kashgar and Korgas economic development zones.

"It's the first time that the central government has set out such a detailed policy outline for the development of the Korgas economic development zone since its approval in May 2010," Yang Jihong, a senior official of the zone, told China Daily on Sunday.

"This is a long-awaited policy for us. Although more time is needed to work out and finalize detailed measures, the guidelines have a milestone significance for the zone's development."

Covering 73 square kilometers, the Korgas economic development zone has focused on attracting investment and infrastructure construction. Taking advantage of its location connecting China and Kazakhstan, the port of Korgas handled 3 million tons of cargo in 2010 and received 550,000 inbound and outbound tourists.

"Twelve projects representing total investment of 20.8 billion yuan ($3.3 billion) have settled in the zone, and a dozen companies from inland provinces are coming at the end of this year," Yang said.

With respect to the construction of a rail facility at the port, Yang said that the construction plan was approved in March and work would begin soon.

Upon its completion, the station will become "the biggest transshipment station in Asia" and "greatly increase the cargo transport capacity of Korgas", Yang added.

The economic zone in Kashgar prefecture attracted 10.7 billion yuan of investment in 2010, up 52 percent year-on-year.

From January to September, paid-in investment reached 10.8 billion yuan, with 8.4 billion yuan from outside Xinjiang.

"Obviously, the Kashgar economic development zone is an engine for drawing investment and accelerating economic development," said Gulishan Aisha, director of the investment promotion bureau of the Kashgar prefecture.

"We hope the State can set out more detailed guidelines for the zone's development."

Under the guidelines, the central government will work to develop the two zones into new sources of economic growth in Xinjiang and develop the cities of Kashgar and Yining as regional hubs for China's opening-up to central, southern and western Asian countries as well as eastern Europe.

The central government will offer subsidies every year through 2015 for the development of the two zones, exempt qualified enterprises from business income taxes for five years, subsidize fixed-asset investment and offer government loans to qualified companies at discounted rates.

Qualified farm products processing enterprises and other labor-intensive companies will get discounts on electricity and transportation fees.

"The guidelines show the State gives full play to Xinjiang's role as a bridgehead in China's opening-up to central and south Asian countries," said Wang Ning, director of the Economic Research Institute at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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