Nowadays, we are witnessing the beginning of entirely new phase of infrastructural modernization in the Eurasian states. The countries of the region realized that there is a strong necessity to work actively in order to create a unified platform for improvement of transport infrastructure and logistics, as well as development of multilateral trade and economic cooperation. Since the beginning of the 21st century, one of the main topics of the international agenda is dedicated to the issues of the revival of the Great Silk Road. Within the framework of the aforementioned initiative, regional states intend to boost their economic and social development stimulating the cross-border cooperation. Actually, the revival of the Great Silk Road could become one of the biggest infrastructural projects of the modern era.
Located in the very heart of Eurasia Kazakhstan claims to become transcontinental bridge, which could connect the markets of China, Europe, the CIS and the Persian Gulf states. Nowadays, as it shown in Figure 1, 5 out of the 13 railway corridors of the Organization for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD) passes through the territory of Kazakhstan. Therefore, it is not surprising that Kazakhstan developed its own transportation and logistics strategy - the New Silk Road (NSR).
Figure 1. International Road Corridors
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, presented the New Silk Road project at the 25th plenary session of the Foreign Investors Council (FIC) held in Astana on May 22, 2012. At the FIC meeting, the Leader of the country stated that forthcoming creation of the Single Economic Space (2012) and the Eurasian Economic Union (2015) could give further impetus for Kazakhstan to establish the biggest transit hub of the Central Asian region benefiting from non-tariff trade opportunities and enjoying simplification of trans-border transportation and customs services. Identifying necessity to create integrated international hubs (trade, logistics, financial, business and tourism) at the key transport corridors of Kazakhstan, it was also announced that the project would implement the so-called Four “S” Principles – Speed, Service, Safety, and Stability.
The New Silk Road project aims to increase transit traffic through the territory of the country twofold by 2020 and tenfold by 2050. Therefore, the project envisages creation of the modern transport and logistics system, which will be operated by a national multi-modal transportation and logistics company created on the basis of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy offering multiple effective options of ground-transportation based cargo delivery within Kazakhstan as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. New Silk Road Project
According to the Draft Comprehensive Plan of Action on the New Silk Road project for the period until 2016, the core element of the NSR will be based on the following projects and directions:
Recently, it was announced that the construction of the biggest section of Kazakhstan’s part of the Transcontinental Corridor Western Europe - Western China, which is passing through the territory of Kyzylorda region with the length of 811 km, was already completed. Initially it was scheduled to finish construction works in 2015. However, in the middle of 2015 it was officially declared that the completion of the Kazakhstan's section of the Western Europe - Western China road was postponed to 2016.
It should be noted that majority of the aforementioned projects lately were included into the Nurly Zhol State Program of infrastructural development of Kazakhstan for 2015-2019, which were presented by the President of Kazakhstan on November 11, 2014. Therefore, the New Silk Road project could be considered as first attempt of the Kazakh government to systematize and streamline the infrastructural projects in the country. However, after China’s announcement of the launching the Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative in 2013 it became clear that there is a strong necessity to improve the NSR’s projects management.
*To be publish in the February 2016 No. 2 issue of the "Asya Avrupa: Haber-Yorum" journal.
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute's editorial policy.