What has changed in ICBC "Khorgos"?

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While the smugglers are sophisticated, coming up with different methods of deception, the so-called "runners" have stuck to their traditional ways.

The International Center for Cross-Border Cooperation "Khorgos" was established in 2005 as a platform for developing cross-border trade, attracting multinational companies, promoting Kazakhstan's exports, and increasing the volume of cross-border trade between Kazakhstan and China.

Simply put, the project was aimed at creating conditions for doing business, attracting investment and providing tourists a comfortable stay.

What Came of It?

The Chinese side immediately began to actively build up their area. In a few years, shopping centers such as "Yu", "Zhong Ke", fur products "King Kong", "Golden Port", "Jiang Yuan", "Feng Ye", trade and exhibition pavilion "Dong Fan Jin Xiu", Hong Kong, German and Korean Duty Free shop popped up. There are also hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and various entertainment facilities. The whole territory is covered in flowers and greenery, which cannot be said about the Kazakh side.

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Unfortunately, there is nothing to brag about. Since its opening, a boiler house with the capacity of 120 MW, an electric substation, water intake facilities and sewage treatment plants have been built, external and internal access roads have been laid. Three trading houses were built, while Chinese businesses have taken up shop there. And the promised "City of Artisans", an ethnocultural complex, comfortable hotels and restaurants, tourists have yet to see.

And every time a government commission visits Khorgos, the locals promise to increase the trade, economic and tourist potential, implement worthy projects from investors. Everything ends there. The only thing they managed to do during the pandemic was to modernize business processes.

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The terminal for passengers has gone through a complete overhaul, the floor was repainted. In the hall, the daunting green iron partitions were replaced with modern glass ones. In order to avoid queues, turnstiles were installed in front of the entrance to the hall. The hall’s air conditioning system has been updated. They promise to provide heating in winter.

The Same Battle Hymn

Once you get to the International Center for Cross-Border Cooperation "Khorgos", you realize that quarantine does not do away with either those trying to deceive the state and those making a profit at the expense of naive tourists. The same "helpers" and smugglers, having briskly launched their operations, continue their work as per usual.

The victorious company in the competition for the right to carry out ICBC Khorgos’cargo transportation is waging a war against said “helpers”. They catch them with "clean" passports, that is, they keep a close eye on the "runners" near the baggage department when they come to receive the goods.

Using a "clean" passport came about after the introduction of the baggage allowance. As we wrote earlier, now one person can easily transport up to 31 kilograms through customs without payment.

 "Everything above the norm is subject to a duty, which is now equal to 4 euros. In such cases, tourists issue receipt orders and safely transport their goods across the border. Tourists alone have been issued 25.3 million tenge in customs payments and taxes,"  explains Yerzhan Zhumabayev, deputy head of the customs post of the ICBC "Khorgos".

According to him, 393,080 people have crossed the state border since the relaunching of the center's operations, i.e., since April 24, 2023. The flow is due to summer vacations and school holidays, as well as preparation for the school season.

The “runners" are familiar with tourists' appetites. Tourists generally have goods exceeding the norm and do not wish to pay 4 euros. They therefore offer said tourists “a way out”. For a price, they “tag” the surplus of goods to other people's passports, ergo the "clean passport” idea. As of August 31, this service cost 850 tenge per 1 kg (2 euros).


On August 25, employees of the KNB’s border service and the customs post of the ICBC “Khorgos" stopped an attempt to smuggle tobacco products.

A customs inspection of a Toyota Land Cruiser revealed a cache between the luggage compartment and the bottom of the car. 244 blocks of brand cigarettes were found in an iron box.

Later it turned out that the SUV belongs to a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Daniyar K. His car has been seized along with the tobacco products.

For violating the requirements of customs legislation, a protocol on an administrative offense has also been drawn up against him.

The case has been transferred to court, after which the driver will have to say part ways not only with the contraband, but also with the SUV.

As reported at the customs post of ICBC “Khorgos", such cases are not uncommon. After the jeep, together with the employees of the KNB’s border service, they detained a driver of a Volkswagen Golf.

On August 27, a customs inspection revealed 21 blocks of MOND cigarettes in the space under the rear seat.

A protocol on an administrative offense was also drawn up against the driver.

These facts fall under Article 549 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On Administrative Offenses". The concealment of goods transported across the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union is very serious. Therefore, administrative cases have been initiated and sent to the judicial authorities for further consideration,  stated Nariman Okenov, chief specialist of the customs post of the ICBC "Khorgos" of the Jetisu region State Duma.

You can also get to the ICBC "Khorgos" by your own car. Now this service costs 35,700 tenge, however, goods will still have to be processed at the baggage department.

And "Khorgos" operates from 7:00 to 19:00, buses carry out transportation from to 17:30. 1 kg of luggage costs 80 tenge, a ticket – 3,000 tenge.

For an additional fee, you can go through the VIP terminal.

The only place where there are still huge queues and crowding are the points where tourists' luggage is checked. It is also popularly called "Kazpost", the baggage collection point opens at 7:00.

We arrived yesterday, we were shopping and now we are standing in the morning, waiting, the workers have not come yet. Here they have problems with punctuality, apparently, a private office and relatives are probably working, which is how they launched everything. We have been standing since 8:00 in the morning. The only pleasant thing is, when the pay office opens, we will be first,  says Zhamiya, a tourist from Kyrgyzstan.

The woman says that the Bishkek market "Dordoi", which is smaller than "Khorgos", sells less high-quality textiles.

And this line is never-ending. Those who do not make it in time before 17:00, stay overnight at the hotel until the next day.

Incidentally, the first multifunctional branch of Kazpost was opened there at the end of July. The chairman of the Board of JSC "Samruk-Kazyna", Nurlan Zhakupov, and the chairman of the Board of JSC "Kazpost" Assel Zhanasova arrived from Astana for this historic event. They cut the blue ribbon in a festive atmosphere.

With the aims of financial improvement, Kazpost's strategy is being developed in several directions: to raise the delivery process to the level of market services for postal services, to develop warehouse infrastructure and financial services through digitalization and expand transactional business,  Zhakupov said after the grand opening.

Kazpost's work did not get off the ground in the building presented as its first multifunctional branch. After the presentation, employees took all of Kazpost’s symbols and followed after their bosses.

Original Author: Sandugash Duisenova, Jetisu region

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian for accuracy.

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