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The New Silk Road, part I: a stocktaking and economic assessment



China’s New Silk Road (NSR) initiative was officially launched in 2013. It aims at enhancing overall connectivity between China and Europe by both building new and modernizing existing – overland as well as maritime – infrastructures. The NSR runs through a number of Eurasian emerging markets with important growth potential. The Chinese authorities have entrusted the Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other institutions with financially supporting NSR activities. Most drivers of the initiative are of an economic or a geopolitical nature. Given the generous financial means at Beijing’s disposal and Chinese firms’ accumulated expertise in infrastructure projects, many undertakings are currently well under way and promise to (eventually) bring about considerable changes in connectivity, commerce and economic dynamism. While most Chinese NSR investments go to large countries (e.g. Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Kenya), the strategically situated smaller countries (e.g. Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Serbia and Montenegro) typically benefit the most (in relation to the size of their economies). Progress has been made in strengthening the maritime infrastructural trade links with the EU (e.g. through the modernization of deep-water ports) while the upgrading of the currently rather weak trans-Eurasian railroad and highway links (e.g. via Kazakhstan and Russia) is clearly improving overland transportation’s yet modest competitive position.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Barisitz & Alice Radzyner, 2017. "The New Silk Road, part I: a stocktaking and economic assessment," Focus on European Economic Integration, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue Q3/17, pages 8-30.
  • Handle: RePEc:onb:oenbfi:y:2017:i:q3/17:b:1

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    New Silk Road; One Belt; One Road; connectivity; trade infrastructure; economic corridors; regional policy; China; Eurasia;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning


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