The Silk Road Economic Belt, sometimes referred to as the South Stream Economic Belt, is a proposed trade and political development project encompassing mostly southeastern European countries and parts of Asia. This area is becoming increasingly important as one of the major corridors of integration in terms of global trade. A strong and successful economic Belt would help boost the economies of its members, while also providing a much needed boost to the faltering global economy. This is because the success of the Belt will depend on the sustained and sustainable success of its countries in the areas of trade, finance, technology, agro-business, and human resources. This means that if all of its countries pull off this successful strategy, then the Belt can play a huge and decisive role in global economic governance.
The road is an old trading route dating back to the 7th century BC. At that time, ancient peoples across Asia settled in what are now western countries such as those of Central Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. Silk Road Economic Belt countries (such as Georgia, Tajikistan, and Iran) aspire to join the European Union (EU), while others aspire to become members of the Asian Development Bank (ABA) and the World Trade Organization. The members of the Silk Road Economic Belt have traded with each other for centuries. In fact, trade was the original impetus behind the development of the road.
There has been a lot of criticism, however, about the size of the road and about the potential for flooding and over-farming of some of its countries. Critics also argue that the road will divert traffic onto lands which should be used for agricultural productivity. These worries have not gone away despite the growth of economic ties between the EU and the countries along its route. Many experts also fear that the slowing down of globalization will trigger a backlash against the Belt and will lead to more resistance to trade liberalization throughout the region Silk Road economic belt.
Despite these fears, there are some benefits for the countries along the Silk Road. For one, it boosts their image as potential exporters of goods ranging from consumer electronics to high-tech medicines. It also provides a much-needed boost to their agricultural production, something they have been reluctant to invest in the past. Most importantly, though, it boosts the global economy. Economists predict that it will increase global GDP by about 5 percent annually.
Economists also foresee a significant influx of tourists to the region. This would boost the economies of the nearby countries like Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China, and Iran. The increase in tourism, coupled with improvements in infrastructure and higher living standards would, in turn, help bolster the national economy. A stronger economy would mean that businesses would be able to invest more in infrastructure, creating jobs and more income for ordinary citizens.
Although the countries along the Silk Road have a long history of diplomacy, they have recently started playing host to multinational corporations. This has created millionaires on a shoestring budget. Recently, Tajikistan signed an agreement with China to develop its natural gas resources. Both the UAE and Maldives have signed agreements with Brazil, South Korea, India, and Japan to build infrastructure projects.
The success of the Belt and Road Initiative in these countries is also being backed by the United States. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has been visiting China regularly as part of her efforts to strengthen the US-Chinese relationship. Her recent visit to Pakistan highlighted the fact that the two countries could work together to fight terrorism. They will also increase trade and commerce between the two countries.
The success of the initiative lies in the fact that it allows both sides to focus on the needs of their respective societies instead of seeing their interests diametrically opposed. That is why the people of each country are starting to realize that their country’s prosperity is directly tied to that of the other. More countries are choosing to join up, rather than stand alone. By working with the others, they can enhance trade, infrastructure, and promote greater diplomacy. If the US is able to pull off this successful scheme, it will prove that its traditional approach of nation-to-nation diplomacy doesn’t have to be rendered useless after all.