Building the New Silk Road Leads to Tehran

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 10/19/2010 03:35:00 PM
Having attended an interesting [to say the least] conference on multiculturalism in Tehran over the summer, I of course took notice of another event going on there concerning the rebuilding the New Silk Road. Since it doesn't look too exciting, the Western press has not paid much attention to a gathering ostensibly concerned with customs regulations, but its implications may be far-ranging indeed in the near future. For, another post I made spoke of the Chinese spearheading this effort to establish a New Silk Road by relinking the Silk Road via their high-speed rail technology. The reasons for doing so are obvious. In contrast to naval routes that are under the watch of the US Navy, overland ones are not as susceptible to Western machinations and intervention as has been the case for several centuries now. Also, the Chinese are keen on infrastructure being the springboard to economic development as evidenced by their own emphasis on ports, highways, and so on linking Chinese production to the world's markets.

So, having literally conquered Western markets with merchandise exports, the wily Chinese are setting their sights on the trading routes of yore. Also, the Turks warming up the Iranians cannot be viewed very positively by the West. Colleagues here at LSE IDEAS are even planning an event on how the West lost Turkey [!] should it tilt further away from the NATO sphere. With the EU treating Turkey with what I regard as barely concealed prejudice in its application for EU membership [1, 2], the message of "you're not of us" is unmistakeable. I further understand that Turkey is not very happy with the US client state Israel. Perhaps its current feeling is that its near neighbours won't treat them with similar contempt:
[The] Turkish Minister joins international forum on silk road in Iran Yazici attended the international forum in Tehran, Iran, on role of customs administrations in development of trade among Silk Road countries. Turkish State Minister Hayati Yazici said that Silk Road countries carried out nearly 25 percent of the world trade, and highlighted historical and cultural importance of the Silk Road. Yazici attended the international forum in Tehran, Iran, on role of customs administrations in development of trade among Silk Road countries.

Representatives from 18 countries including Turkey, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Ukraine, Vietnam and Turkmenistan were also in attendance at the two-day gathering.

Speaking at the forum, Yazici said, "the Silk road includes the main transportation corridor connecting the continents of Asia and Europe. The Silk Road is of great historical and cultural importance. The Silk Road countries carry out nearly 25 percent of the world trade."

"International trade has a key importance for sustainable economic development. It is one of the most important elements increasing the level of prosperity in the world. International trade also makes significant contribution to efforts to reduce poverty and create a more stable and secure world. After globalization gained momentum, international trade made a great progress. And it saw an average annual increase of 9 percent in the last decade. On the other hand, foreign trade volume by the Silk Road countries reached an annual increase rate of 15 percent in the same period," he said.

"Recent development of information and communication technologies led to an important progress in transportation and logistics. All those developments entailed customs administrations to improve themselves. Development of regional trade will have a positive impact on the level of prosperity. It will also improve good neighborly relations and consolidate regional stability. If we manage to ease customs proceedings in the Silk Road geography, we will serve prosperity and stability in our region," he said.

Yazici added, "Turkey has launched several projects for use of border crossings with the neighboring countries in the Silk road geography. These projects aims at easing customs proceedings."
It's a modest beginning on fairly technical aspects of trade facilitation, but South-South trade certainly has room to grow. The Rest getting it together without the West? It's a start.