2019 年 2019 巻 48 号 p. 19-40
In this study, I tried to survey economic effects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on Russia and other Eurasian Countries as its transit nations. Economic effects can be categorized into ‘investment effects,’ ‘transport effects’ and ‘areal effects.’
I found that ‘investment effects’ of BRI on the railway sector of Eurasian countries were rather limited. Few fulfilled projects include China Eximbank’s loan to finance construction of Kamchik railway tunnel in Uzbekistan, China Eximbank’s loan to finance electrification of Belarus’s railway and, though the details were unknown, China’s commitment to invest in establishing the special economic zone ‘Khorgos-Eastern Gate.’ Other investment projects on the list of prospective joint works by Eurasian Economic Union members and China, such as the Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail project, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project and the project to connect rail networks of Armenia and Iran, had not been materialized so far.
As for ‘transport effects,’ thus far the most remarkable success story is the rapid growth of China Railway Express connecting China and Europe via Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus by container trains, which is believed to bring about over 100 million US dollars of transit revenue annually to each of them. Companies from European regions of Russia and Belarus also begin to explore the Chinese market by virtue of China Railway Express, which may play some positive role in expanding non-resource, non-energy exports, a priority for Putin administration. One must, however, put it into consideration that according to balance of payment statistics railway service export revenue of the three countries is stagnating. In addition, China-Europe container transport is still dominated by maritime modal, not railway. Beijing plans to reduce subsidies by local governments to container trains, which also makes the future of China Railway Express uncertain.
Lastly, we can regard the development of ‘Khorgos-Eastern Gate’ in Kazakhstan and the birth of industrial park ‘Great Stone’ in Belarus, both with investments from China, as typical cases of ‘areal effects,’ while the ambitious Moscow-Kazan high-speed rail project in Russia came to a deadlock because it needs larger investments and more complicated arrangements.