While most heads were turned to the East-West transport arteries spearheaded by China’s Belt and Road investments, activity along the lesser known North-South corridors has been slowly gaining momentum. Like their East-West cousins, the North-South routes consist of a bundle of land and sea multimodal corridors and connect South Asia to Northern Europe via the Persian Gulf and the Caspian region. Unlike the China-sponsored Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, however, the development of the North-South corridors follows a more multilateral and multi-stakeholder approach.
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The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), examined in the first part of this series, has developed slowly but steadily during its twenty years of existence. Although mired by political and financial difficulties, including new sanctions on Iran (and Russia) placed by the Trump administration, the corridor will retain its potential for the actors involved. Today, the INSTC is complemented by two other initiatives: the Chabahar International Transport and Transit Corridor; and the proposed Russia-Pakistan (Ru-Pak) Corridor. The two projects are discussed below, followed by a brief evaluation of the potential impact of the full roll-out of these emerging North-South trade routes.
Seven CSIS experts unpack the economic and geostrategic implications of China’s infrastructure development across the Indo-Pacific region under the Maritime Silk Road.
Within the last few years, Iran has demonstrated its strong political will to re-emerge as a regional transportation hub. The country’s effort to improve its physical connectivity and become a centerpiece for regional supply chains has been spearheaded by an ambitious national railway development plan. This article evaluates existing and planned railway routes with a focus on Iran-Europe transport corridors and revisits Iran´s recent accomplishments in rail connectivity.
A special report by Nikkei Asian Review and The Banker which leverages data from the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project has found that China’s Belt and Road initiative holds considerable promise for countries in need of infrastructure investment along its route, however, participation has been hampered by challenges ranging from a lack of participation by local workers and banks to unmanageable debt hangovers.