This is a fascinating if somewhat depressing read: The New Silk Road and the Northern Distribution Network: A Golden Road to Central Asian Trade Reform?
The New Silk Road and the Northern Distribution Network is a constructive assessment of the conditions and challenges facing this effort that asks and answers the following questions:
- Is the Northern Distribution network incentivizing regional cooperation and border reforms?
- Is the Northern Distribution Network helping to fight corruption in Central Asia?
- Has the Northern Distribution Network made transhipment through Central Asia more efficient?
- Are ordinary Central Asian citizens benefitting from Northern Distribution Network trade?
I suspect you can guess the answers… you know what they say about the answer to a headline phrased as a question always being “no”?
The New Silk Road: Where Will It Lead is an interview with the author, Graham Lee. The report itself has lots of numbers for freight transport volumes and costs, which might be of interest to some readers.
In summary, the money being spend on the Northern Distribution Network is all disappearing into a pit of corruption, with lots of people on the take.
The report suggests that the various state railways are doing nicely out of the NDN traffic. I guess that if the freight needs to be moved, railways are more efficient in technical terms. But where is all the money they are getting going – funding strategic infrastructure investments and shiny new trains, disappearing off into general government funds, or into someone’s back pocket?