Europe Finally Wakes Up To The New Silk Road, And This Could Be Big – by Wade Shepard (Forbes Magazine – November 10, 2016)

“They humiliated me a year ago,” began Karl Gheysen, the then-CEO of the Khorgos Gateway dry port on the Kazakh/China border, in November of 2015. He then told me a story about a talk that he attempted to give to an audience of senior executives of big rail companies at a conference in Europe a year earlier.

“I started talking about Khorgos and Kazakhstan, and the general of the executives interrupted and said, ‘We’ve heard this before, for the last 15 years we’ve heard Kazakhstan this and Kazakhstan that. We’ve all heard about the Silk Road. Go back to your playground and make something, and when you have something come back here and show me the volume!’”

That about summed up the general attitude in Europe at that time towards the emerging network of economic corridors that had been dubbed the New Silk Road.

Since the late 1990s, the governments of Central Asia along with a few upstart investors and think tanks had been promoting a vision of a reconnected Asia, but what had actually been developing on the ground was haphazard at best — a nascent dry port here, a new highway to nowhere there.

Then in 2013 Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the trillion-plus dollar Belt and Road initiative, and the dormant Silk Road concept was suddenly awakened. Countries like Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Poland, and Georgia rapidly began doubling down on their investments in trans-Eurasian infrastructure, building ports, special economic zones, highways, railways, and commercial centers in preparation for China showing up with their bags of money.

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