‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative – Transforming Trade, Tourism and Transport
One of the largest projects ever visualised, China is currently undertaking the ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative – a huge trade and infrastructure project which aims to link China both physically and financially to dozens of economies across Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania.
With the potential to be one of the world’s largest platforms for regional collaboration, the initiative is made up of two parts; the ‘belt’ which recreates the old Silk Road land route, and the ‘road’ which, confusingly, is a series of shipping routes through various oceans.
Expected to cost more than £760bn, Belt and Road includes 71 countries that account for 65% of the world’s population, and a quarter of global GDP.
One Belt One Road Investment in Thailand
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the initiative after China is expected to be Thailand. With Chinese investment in a range of infrastructure projects developing airports, rail links and road networks, Thailand, which sits at the heart of South East Asia is already seeing the benefits of OBOR.
Thanks to increasingly straightforward routes between the two countries, in 2017, Thailand received more than 9.8 million tourists from China alone, representing about 28% of its total arrivals for the year.
The Thai cabinet approved a $7.2bn high-speed rail project that will link two of Bangkok’s main airports with another airport in the eastern province of Rayong. The route will run for approximately 220km, with trains reaching a maximum speed of 250km/h. A government spokesperson described it as the “flagship project of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)”, a scheme that aims to boost industry in the country’s eastern provinces.
Additionally, a cross border route between Thailand and China is set to become operational in 2021 will further cement links between the two. Construction of a new rail mega station in the capital Bangkok is also 50% complete. When it opens, the station will act as a key hub for high-speed rail links, including both the Thai-China high-speed project and the ECC line.
This investment in Thai infrastructure is set to see continued economic growth in the region, with areas such as Pattaya and Bangkok reaping the benefits of increased connectivity with areas across the globe.
Turkey – A Strategic Location
A major ambition of the OBOR initiative for China to bring trade routes back to Europe. Turkey’s strategically important location that connects Europe, Asia and Africa makes it vital to the continued expansion of the plan.
Turkey is the largest economy in this region, giving it a strong bargaining position to ensure that its own interests are considered alongside Chinese ambitions, providing the opportunity for the country to pursue economic interests overseas via the OBOR, centring Turkey as an economic power within its region.
The One Belt One Road initiative presents an opportunity for Turkish companies to seek more overseas trade thanks to the additional connections with countries along the route. Additionally, Turkish companies can benefit from both contracts and expertise being shared with China’s huge construction sector.
With ambitious projects taking place in neighbouring regions which will further enhance Turkey’s position, there are a plethora of opportunities for Turkey to benefit from One Belt One Road.