The role of Russia and China in the development of the transport and logistics potential of Eurasia

05.31.2024

Eurasia is currently witnessing a significant increase in transport projects. This is due to increased interest from major players on the continent, such as Russia and China, who are seeking alternative transport routes in response to the challenges faced by maritime transport

These global factors have led to the increasing importance of Central Asia as a logistics hub, due to its strategic location. This, in turn, opens up an excellent «opportunity corridor» for Central Asia to effectively utilize the benefits of its position in the development of its economies.

In 2023, 500 million tons of cargo were transported along three main routes: International North—South Transport Corridor, Azov-Black Sea, and Eastern routes. This is an absolute record that exceeds the volume of 2021 by 10%. The North-South corridor also has the potential to become a promising route for transport corridors within the EAEU.

Russia, as part of its «Turn to the East» policy, is currently working hard to expand its transport corridors. These corridors play a crucial role in connecting Russia with countries in Eurasia.

1) The North-South corridor has three main routes: the Trans-Caspian route, the western route and the eastern route. These routes provide an efficient way for goods to reach destinations in Iran and other countries in the region.

2) The East-West corridor aims to facilitate the export of goods from Russian ports to countries such as China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also serves as a means to promote trade between the EU and Asia. This corridor provides an important link for the development of economic relations between these regions.

Chinese transport corridors:

1) The Eurasian Land Bridge corridor runs through Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

2) The China-Central Asia-West Asia corridor passes through five Central Asian countries and 17 countries in Western Asia.

3) The China-Mongolia-Russia Corridor.

Eurasian Land Bridge: Assessment of Development Prospects

After the start of the sanctions conflict between Russia and Western countries, traffic volumes initially decreased, but then began to increase very quickly. Over the course of 2022 alone, more than 400,000 TEUs were transported along this rail corridor. By October 2023, this number had increased to almost 500,000 TEUs. However, there are still many risks and challenges in the development process, with the main ones related to risks from sanctions and potential trade wars.

The «Middle Corridor» is seen as a potential alternative to Chinese and Russian projects in the current geopolitical landscape.

The «Middle Corridor», also known as the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), runs through China, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and on to Turkey and European countries. Last year, TMTM saw a significant increase in cargo traffic, with 2.75 million tons of cargo passing through the route, an increase of 64% compared to the previous year.

The transport infrastructure of Eurasia, including Russia and the countries that border it, has formed its routes based on the principle of parallelism. And here, the North-South route becomes relevant, which, under certain conditions, can become a serious competitor to the Suez Canal.

The increasing importance of the North-South corridor is due not only to sanctions against Russia but also to the shifting of economic activity centers to China, Southeast Asia, and the Persian Gulf countries.

Russia and China are playing an increasingly significant role in the development of transportation corridors in Eurasia. Despite the potential for development and benefits, however, there are risks and challenges, such as trade disputes and transportation issues at border crossings.

The original is available in Russian

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