The Xinjiang government has decided to invest more than 170 billion yuan ($24.72 billion) in a road network between China and Pakistan to improve transportation capability of overland trade. However, experts noted that there remain challenges to the growth of bilateral trade, such as a lack of infrastructure and insufficient consumer demand in western China.
A trial shipment of seafood through the Khunjerab Pass back in January was meaningful because it illustrated the growth of overland trade between the two countries since the highway was rebuilt and extended in 2013, said Zhou Rong, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China. The highway greatly reduced the transnational transportation time.
"It used to take 30 to 40 days to ship goods to Xinjiang [from Pakistan], but we can now receive goods in about 10 days through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)," Chen Hai'ou, president of Kashgar Mufeng Biotechnology Co. told the Global Times on Wednesday.
It was also 10 percent cheaper than transporting seafood from coastal cities in China, Chen noted.
Chen is also optimistic about the prospects that the CPEC will revitalize overland trade. "Besides seafood, we will import fruit and other agricultural products in line with domestic needs," he said, noting that he is discussing importing fruit with Pakistani companies.