Import and export cargo at the Horgos Port in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a city that borders Kazakhstan, jumped 23.2 percent year-on-year to 35.74 million tons in 2018 boosted by the Belt & Road initiative (BRI), figures from the Horgos customs showed on Sunday.

Total trade volume hit 135.2 billion yuan ($20 billion), up 22.2 percent year-on-year, according to the statistics.

The amount and value accounted for 60.2 percent and 45.6 percent of the total for the entire Xinjiang customs zone, respectively, ranking it the first among all Ports in Xinjiang.

In terms of exports, high-technology products, textiles and clothes, electronic equipment and agricultural products recorded significant growth, with main export destinations including Russia and five Central Asian nations – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Imports were mainly traditional bulk commodities such as natural gas, licorice, sunflower seeds and animal fur.

The spike in trade volume and value shed light on how Xinjiang has further opened up and vitalised its economy by improving infrastructure and connectivity under the Belt & Road Initiative, industry analysts said. Horgos, which has built up railway, highway and pipeline links with other parts of China as well as Central Asia, is dubbed the “youngest city” along China’s new Silk Road.

China set up the China – Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, the biggest duty-free shopping centre in West China and a first cross-border free trade zone there, to boost cross – border trade activity in the city. The shopping centre was opened in April 2012.