Taiyuan Customs in North China's Shanxi province recently signed an agreement with Urumqi Customs in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China, located close to Central Asia, to jointly streamline customs clearances of fruit exports. 

Under the agreement, the two sides will strengthen their inspections and quarantine supervision of fruit exported to Russia and Central Asian countries -- ensuring the quality and safety of exports and expanding the fruit export market in Central Asia. 

Previously, Shanxi fruit arriving at the Xinjiang port was loaded into containers before obtaining a qualified certificate from Taiyuan Customs. That is, fresh fruit arriving at Urumqi Customs used to have to wait for the issue of the certificate.

Things have now changed so that fruit exporters can directly obtain the certificate at Urumqi Customs, which ensures timely customs clearance of fruit and solves the biggest bottleneck in Shanxi's fruit exports via Urumqi, said Li Jiaoling, manager of a logistics company in Shanxi.

Yang Jianghui, who manages a fruit growing cooperative in Shanxi -- whose fresh apples are usually exported to Uzbekistan via Urumqi -- said real progress had been made.

"The joint supervision of the inland customs and port customs has greatly shortened customs clearance times and reduced customs clearance costs, bringing convenience to our fresh fruit export," Yang said.

Customs officials said there was a real motive behind the change. Zhao Wenjuan, an official of Taiyuan Customs, said Urumqi land port was an important channel for the overland exports of Shanxi's fruit.

Over the past five years, Taiyuan Customs has declared 371,400 metric tons of fruit through Urumqi Customs -- with a value of $447 million -- which has been exported to Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The exports included pears, peaches, persimmons, apples, grapes and plums.