The much spoken of ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, launched in 2013, is fast coming to fruition. In this piece we take a look at the major new routes of global trade.
The five major goals of the Belt and Road Initiative are: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds.
The Belt is an adaptation of China’s historic Silk Road, a land-based trade route linking East and West. In its modern incarnation, a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt starts at China’s Luoyang and ends at Port of Hamburg in Germany. It ties in with a maritime Silk ‘Road’, focusing on Chinese coastal ports, that begins at China’s Quanzhou and ends in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Export agencies in over 60 countries now support OBOR. This encompasses two-thirds of the world’s population with six clear channels to different markets:
(1) The Eurasia Land Bridge Economic Corridor – an international railway line running from Lianyungang in China’s Jiangsu province, through Alashankou in Xinjiang to Rotterdam in Holland. These new rail routes offer freight transport, as well as the convenience of ‘one declaration, one inspection, one cargo release’ for any cargo transported.
(2) The China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor – the three heads of state agreed to bring together the building of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt, the renovation of Russia’s Eurasia Land Bridge and the proposed development of Mongolia’s Steppe Road. This will strengthen rail and highway connectivity and construction, advance customs clearance, promote cross-national cooperation, and help establish the China-Russia-Mongolia Economic Corridor.
(3) China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor – this runs from Xinjiang in China and exits the country to join the railway networks of Central Asia and West Asia and reaches the Mediterranean coast and the Arabian Peninsula.
(4) China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor – this corridor will deepen the relations between China and the five countries in the Indochina Peninsula.
(5) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – the two countries will proactively advance joint projects, including highways, a new international airport, a new economic zone, and the China-Pakistan cross-national optic fibre network.
(6) Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor - OBOR could be the bridge that restores relevance for both Britain and Europe to China; it will keep Britain in the European fold post-Brexit. Following the financial crash in 2007/08 the changes in world trade that had been developing were revealed. East to South and South/South trading patterns took predominance in driving the world economy and the old West to East paradigm was shattered.