We’ve just returned from Kyrgyzstan where we had an opportunity to inspect the country’s road upgrading program and supply chain opportunities. Many of the country’s roads also lie on the Silk Road’s historical trade routes and today’s road freight trade with China, as pictured, echoes the past. Our four takeaways:
1) Our Belt & Road Data Analytics indicates that roads account for a significantly higher share of Chinese activity in Kyrgyzstan compared to almost any other country. Cambodia is the only other country where roads account for such a high share.
2) The road building is part of the CAREC program, which aims to improve transport corridors between 11 Eurasian countries. Chinese companies have been winning CAREC-related road projects prior to the announcement of Belt & Road in 2013.
3) Kyrgyzstan’s (GDP $7bn) opportunity to tranship products from China to Uzbekistan (GDP $67bn) is not guaranteed. Kazakhstan (GDP $134bn) remains a key competitor with a more developed road and rail infrastructure and fewer mountains.
4) Road freight travelling from Bishkek to Tashkent may still pass through southern Kazakhstan owing to its easier route. Khorgos Dry Port in eastern Kazakhstan is already intermediating rising volumes from China to Uzbekistan.