The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), stretching from the eastern coast of India to Europe via Iran, Russia, and the Caspian region, has been plagued by financial and political difficulties but its economic impact could be transformative if ever fully realized.
A flurry of recent diplomatic activity highlights the multilateral and multi-stakeholder footing of Eurasia's North-South trade and transport initiatives. While significant economic and political challenges remain, they retain the potential to transform Eurasia's economic landscape.
Browse our analysis section for news and articles on topics such as China's Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), the Competing Visions of Japan, India, and other regional powers, and the stakes for U.S. policy.
Russia is courting India to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a move that would boost bilateral economic ties and enhance the trade bloc's international status, Nikkei reports.
China has exported AI technology to over 60 countries, some of which have concerning human rights records, raising concerns among some countries that China may be "exporting authoritarianism," Nikkei reports.
Should inter-Korean cooperation result in the re-joining of North and South Korea's railways, it could connect the peninsula through China and Russia to a rail network that spans Eurasia. However, such connections will require a long and costly modernization process to fully integrate the systems in a commercially viable way, complicating the future of these potentially transformative links.
North and South Korea are pushing railway cooperation as an engine for advancing inter-Korean relations. Railway connections could integrate the peninsula into a network that spans the continent, marking a significant diplomatic and geopolitical accomplishment. However, significant obstacles still remain.
China's Belt and Road is commonly visualized as a train carrying commerce across Eurasia. But a train does not adequately capture BRI’s significance or scope. Instead, a Chinese flag is a better representation. Whether it is China’s intention or not, the increasing connectivity the BRI brings comes hand in hand with exposure to Chinese culture.
Although Beijing insists that its Belt and Road Initiative has no geopolitical motives, the project has been at the center of an increasing number of political controversies, foreign and domestic, writes the Financial Times in a Special Report, citing analyses from the Reconnecting Asia Project.
The European Commission has announced "The European Way to Connectivity," a proposal aimed at boosting Europe's infrastructure links with Asia.
Following their meeting at the 2018 Eastern Economic Forum, Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin affirmed their intention to link China's Belt and Road Initiative with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.
Djibouti intends to promote the Belt and Road Initiative despite caution about the debt burden, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. The country's strategic location at the mouth of the Red Sea could help China connect to Africa and Europe by land and sea.
Kazakhstan and China have drafted 51 projects worth a total of $27 billion in the energy, mining, infrastructure and other sectors between 2016 and 2022.
The New Silk Road Project will travel 10,000 miles across China’s Economic Belt from London to Yiwu to investigate the people, projects, countries, and landscapes involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative.
Infrastructure improvements within the Eurasian Economic Union have fueled interest in a free trade agreement between Thailand and the Russia-led bloc.
The evolving nature of international trade due to China's Belt and Road Initiative will be one key trend to watch in 2018.
Beijing’s star is rising in central and eastern European nations,” reports the Financial Times
Three Americans walk the historic silk road from Xi’an to Istanbul to examine globalization and the dissemination of people, products, and ideas along the largest network of trading routes in the ancient world.
In China, where high-speed rail and brand-new highways are visibly transforming the lives of workers and families, the potential of the Belt and road is apparent. However, outside of China, the BRI remains largely hype for now.
This report highlights essays from our Big Question series - an analysis collection that explore the drivers and implications of the massive infrastructure push taking place across the Eurasian continent.
When operational, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway could unlock new trade patterns and shift Eurasia’s economic center of gravity inward. The potential gains are significant, but so are the obstacles in laying the Middle Corridor of the New Silk Road.
It would be a huge mistake to ignore the significance of the reconnecting of Eurasia.
The South Caucasus is an important corridor connecting Europe to Asia and a source of and transit route for Caspian oil and gas. Yet today, violence continues to lurk just below the surface, jeopardizing efforts to build new transit corridors through the region.
While the most visible components of Eurasia's reconnection are infrastructure projects, the longer-term result has been a reshuffling of relations between the post-Soviet states of Central Asia and the South Caucasus and the major regional powers.
In pursuit of its goal of becoming a hub for trade between East and West, Georgia has emphasized the development of transit infrastructure and its involvement in initiatives aimed at the integration of regional transport and energy infrastructure.
Azerbaijan's strategic location and vast energy reserves are two of its most valuable assets, and Baku seeks to leverage them as part of its quest to become a major trade and transit hub for the wider Eurasian region.
New infrastructure projects built across the South Caucasus over the past two decades have largely bypassed Armenia, causing the country to miss out on the benefits of connectivity that are otherwise transforming the area into an increasingly important corridor for east-west trade and transit.
Transcontinental trade through Eurasia is going to be vital for India. As a result, plans for linking India with Europe through Eurasia will be much more valuable, rather than just thinking in a regional or subregional context.
European leaders and experts view China's "One Belt, One Road" initiave positively insofar as it will allow the Central Asian states to be better integrated into international trade and to get Chinese funding for big infrastructure projects that no one else is ready to finance.
One of Iran's key priorities has been revitalizing the old Silk Road. Tehran, in collaboration with other regional states has consequently sought to build the necessary infrastructure including roads, railways and natural gas and oil pipelines.
There are a number of projects that play a significant role in Turkey's integration with Eurasia through development of much-needed infrastructure in the fields of transport, transit, and communications.
Uzbekistan's double landlocked geography, coupled with inadequate transport capacity, represents a brake on economic growth. While Tashkent aspires to become a regional hub for transit and trade, many regional political and geographic challenges currently stand in the way.
Tajikistan faces more challenges and fewer opportunities than its neighbors in a reconnecting Eurasia. From difficult geography and mountainous topography to political barriers, Tajikistan has much to overcome to maximize opportunities from regional reconnection.
Kyrgyzstan views China's emphasis on infrastructure development and regional connectivity under the rubric of the Silk Road Economic Belt as wholly congruent with Kyrgyzstan's economic development priorities and national interests.
While Ashgabat has promoted the development of physical infrastructure wihtin Central Asia, the challenges of insufficient soft infrastructure, intraregional conflicts, and an uncertain, potentially unstable regional security environment all loom large.
With the development of new transportation, communication, energy, and trade linkages, Kazakhstan is at the literal center of a larger post-Soviet Eurasia, and positioned to capture much of whatever overland transit emerges between Europe, East Asia, and possibly South Asia.
More than any time since the collapse of the Silk Road five centuries ago, a focus on Eurasia as a whole is necessary today. Over the past two decades, Eurasia has begun to slowly reconnect, with the emergence of new trade relationships and transit infrastructures.