Russia in BRI projects: new infrastructures to promote the economy of the country
Russia, the largest country in the world, plays a key role in the new silk road. Many of the most frequently used rail and road routes between China and Europe cross the former Soviet Union. Although the traffic between the two areas of the Eurasian continent is mainly (almost 90%) by sea, the train is emerging as a means of transportation for import and export to and from China. The advantages are multiples: it is faster than the sea freight, it allows to stop in multiple centers or alternatively without interruption and it can easily connects city centers and continental areas. The regions crossed by the various routes between China and Europe recently saw the development of many economic activities due to the increase of traffics, which also results into a greater trucks movement. From exchange centers to special economic zones, the trains bring with them a great number of opportunities. Often many of these areas are already highly industrialized. This is the case of the Ural and Volga regions in the Russian Federation. Here is the manufacturing hub of the country: 70% of motor vehicles of the nation, 50% of defense and aerospace systems, 40% of metals and 30% of mechanical tools are manufactured here.
One of the largest projects investing the area is the Western Europe International Transit Corridor, the international road corridor that links western Europe with western China. This ambitious project is joined by a series of others which create a prosperous environment for the areas affected by the route. This is the case of the highway from Moscow to Samara-Tolyatti area, in the region along the Volga, a few miles from the Kazakhstan border. The current highway is 930 km long and runs at an average speed of 73 km / h, taking almost 13 hours to get to the destination from the capital. The new project would be 30 km shorter, using 205 km of roads already built, it would be able to travel at an average speed of 109 km / h and speed up the journey of four-hour. There will be 695 km of new construction, which can offer opportunities to Italian companies specialized in road projects.
Foreign investments are welcome and governed by Federal Law No. 160-FZ and the road sector is not considered 'strategic' and therefore 'protected' by the law. US and EU sanctions for the Ukraine situation can be an obstacle, at least in terms of red tape, but with the assistance of experts in co-operation with Moscow should be easily overcome every complication, as long as in compliance with certain rules.
A great analysis by Prof. Mikhail Blinkin, a transport economy expert, shows how the highway towards the Kazakh border, part of the international corridor between China and Europe, is important for the country's economy.
Relations between the EU and Russia, although far from being optimal, seem to have settled down in recent times, thank also to their similar position on the Iranian agreement between Moscow and Brussels, and on which Washington is wavering. Already during the summer Jean-Claude Juncker's entourage suggested that the President of the European Commission could be willing to reduce the sanctions to Russia, in order to preserve energy supplies from the east. Tone down the hostility and return to normality can only benefit both sides, with an increase in trade that would also greatly help Italy.
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