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URUMQI -- Foreign trade in China's far west Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region saw slower growth in the first half of 2012 amid a sluggish global economy and tougher competition, local statistical authorities said Tuesday.
Xinjiang's foreign trade volume stood at $9.82 billion in the first half, up 9.2 percent from a year ago. Although the rate is higher than the national average of 8 percent, it represents a 31-percent drop in comparison to the same period last year, the region's statistical bureau said in a Tuesday statement.
Xinjiang exported $7.29 billion worth of goods in the first six months, up 17.4 percent from a year earlier, said the statement.
Imports dropped to 2.54 billion yuan ($397.7 million), down 8.9 percent, it said.
Authorities blamed the trade decrease mainly on gloomy global markets. In addition, a trade union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus has weakened the competitiveness of Xinjiang's products, analysts said.
However, there are still signs of optimism, as more foreign trade companies entered the region this year. In the first six months, authorities approved the registration of 637 foreign trade firms, up 37 percent from a year ago, according to the region's Tianshan news portal.
In 2011, trade with five central Asian states - Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan - accounted for 78 percent of Xinjiang's foreign trade.