Monday, April 09, 2007

The New Silk Road :: WaPo

The new Silk Road is largely the result of the confluence of China's and India's economic growth and high oil prices. China and the six oil-rich members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- are flush with cash. What's more, Chinese and Indian energy needs will ensure that the GCC region -- the equivalent of the world's 16th-largest economy -- continues to grow. By 2025, forecasts show, China will import three times as much oil from the Persian Gulf as the United States.

Key "caravan posts" on the new Silk Road are regional economic "winners" or rising stars: Dubai, Beijing, Mumbai, Chennai, Tokyo, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Riyadh, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi. The old Silk Road civilization centers such as Persia (Iran), the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan) and Mesopotamia (Iraq) lag behind. Dubai, it might be argued, is the unofficial Middle East capital of the new Silk Road -- a gathering place of capital, ideas and traders fueling the growth -- and Iran, once a central force, is the sick man, albeit with enormous potential.

Investors from the GCC have been pouring money into real estate, banking and infrastructure across Asia. The Kuwait Investment Authority, the largest foreign investor in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has doubled its Asia investments in the past two years. A Dubai official said last month that some GCC states are contemplating buying the yuan to diversify their reserves. Meanwhile, Chinese, Korean, Indian and Japanese companies are active in Middle East real estate, consumer products and industrial investments. China and Egypt -- another Silk Road laggard, just now sputtering to life -- have pledged to double trade in the next few years.
Thanks to Scott of Hybla for the pointer.

Here's something about the original Silk Road.

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