Central Asia and the New Silk Road

The thriving east-west trade that once prospered along the famed Silk Road is slowly being restored to its former glory through transport and trade links being rolled out under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation program. Here are 12 facts and figures on the New Silk Road.

  1. The Silk Road first operated in 2 B.C. as a route between China and the capital of the Roman Empire. The most valuable commodity imported from China was silk, thus … The Silk Road.
    Source: ADB 'New Silk Road' to Link Europe, Asia
  1. The trade that once prospered along the Silk Road declined with the opening of the world's sea-lanes in the 16th and 17th centuries.
    Source: ADB 'New Silk Road' to Link Europe, Asia
  1. The road has been coming back to life in the last 10 years, connecting Mongolia to Afghanistan to Turkmenistan and many countries beyond. This has largely come about through growing transport and trade links being rolled out under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program, which was established in 2001.
    Source: ADB CAREC at 10 - Connectivity and Trade for Prosperity
  1. The CAREC Program is a partnership of 10 countries and 6 multilateral institutions. It brings together Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
    Source: ADB CAREC Program
  1. Since 2001, CAREC-related investments have totaled $17 billion in energy, trade and transportation. Accomplishments have included some 3,600 kilometers of road building and improvements, and almost 2,000 kilometers of railway tracks put in place.
    Source: ADB The New Silk Road: Ten Years of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program
  1. A significant barrier to trade in Central Asia is the high transports costs, and long and unpredictable times for international shipments to and from the region. Countries in the region are also landlocked, remote, and have difficult topographies.
    Source: Central Asia: Increasing Gains from Trade Through Regional Cooperation in Trade Policy, Transport, and Customs Transit
  1. From 2001-2011, ADB provided $5.5 billion in loans and grants in transport, trade, and energy to CAREC countries. The ring road, rail and electricity projects in Afghanistan, and the East-West Corridor in Azerbaijan are some of the flagship programs.
    Source: ADB and CAREC
  1. On energy, ADB is assisting the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline Project. ADB financed regional transmission lines, including the one that now supplies electricity to Kabul from Uzbekistan 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    Source: ADB CAREC at 10 - Connectivity and Trade for Prosperity
  1. Since Afghanistan was at the heart of the Silk Road network, ADB's focus has been on transport and energy networks that will enable the country to fulfill its role as a key player in the CAREC program. A newly opened 75-kilometer railway line from Hairatan on the Uzbekistan border to Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan will lead to increased trade.
    Source: ADB Adds $754 Million to Infrastructure Projects in Afghan Road and Rail Sector
  1. Bazaars across Central Asia have a positive impact on trade in the region. It is estimated the two largest bazaars - Dordoi and Barakhlovka— have sales of around or above $2 billion, while five other bazaars have estimated sales above $100 million. Bazaars also contribute to poverty alleviation through offering cheap products to consumers and creating employment opportunities extending well beyond bazaars themselves.
    Source: World Bank: Bazaars and trade integration in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries
  1. ADB is working to simplify and harmonize customs regimes and upgrade border posts, making borders crossings easier and ensuring more business between neighbors and partners in far-flung regions.
    Source: ADB CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation: Partnership for Prosperity
  1. CAREC 2020 details priority projects, estimated at over $50 billion, needed to complete six transport corridors, improve energy security, and promote development of true economic corridors.
    Source: ADB Development Partners Commit to Support CAREC 2020

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