Towards Greater Connectivity: The South Caucasus as a Railway Hub between the EU and China

Rzayev, Ayaz (2019). Towards Greater Connectivity: The South Caucasus as a Railway Hub between the EU and China. UNU-CRIS Policy Brief. UNU Insitute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies.

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  • Subtitle Policy Brief
    Sub-type Policy brief
    Author Rzayev, Ayaz
    Editor Bossuyt, Fabienne
    Dunn, Andrew
    Dessein, Bart
    Title Towards Greater Connectivity: The South Caucasus as a Railway Hub between the EU and China
    Series Title UNU-CRIS Policy Brief
    Volume/Issue No. 2019/1
    Publication Date 2019
    Place of Publication Bruges
    Publisher UNU Insitute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
    Pages 10
    Language eng
    Abstract Since its unveiling in 2013, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has clearly manifested itself as one of China’s highest priorities. The mere size and ambition of the BRI, to which Beijing has already committed massive financial and diplomatic resources, could render it one of the defining economic and political projects of the first half of the 21st century. The European Union (EU) and its eastern partners have found themselves at the center of the BRI. For Europe, China’s engagement in the EU’s Eastern Neighborhood presents both massive opportunities and serious challenges. Just recently, the EU has adopted its own Connectivity Strategy portrayed as the EU’s answer to BRI. Both these initiatives open up new opportunities for cooperation and rivalry between the two powers, especially in the Eastern Neighborhood. It remains to be seen, however, how far these initiatives can go and whether they will be able to impact the regional geostrategic landscape. If they unfold as Beijing and Brussels hope, the ramifications would certainly be far-reaching. Since the South Caucasus offers the shortest rail route from China to Europe, the countries expect to gain from increased connectivity between Europe and China by leveraging their positions as transit hubs. In this context, the newly established Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway line is a major item in Azerbaijan’s and Georgia’s foreign policy agendas of transforming their countries into a connectivity hub between Europe and Asia. China and the EU themselves stand to benefit politically as well as economically if this route becomes competitive to Northern routes going through Russia. The success of the transit hub that Azerbaijan and Georgia seek to create in the South Caucasus depends on several factors: the optimization of traffic capacity of rail infrastructure and roads, a favorable regulatory framework and price regime adjusted to the needs of intermodal transport, preferential customs clearance procedures, and the adoption of effective regulations for e-commerce.
    Copyright Holder UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
    Copyright Year 2019
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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    Created: Tue, 26 Mar 2024, 21:48:21 JST by Masovic, Ajsela on behalf of UNU CRIS