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China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative And Asia Is A Crucial Trade Route Starting Point, Part 6. Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam

ArmchairTechInvestor, May 30, 2018, by Brad Peery

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Below are summaries of the OBOR initiatives in the countries covered in the Asia Part 6 Region.

Timor-Leste

*Located on the eastern half of Timor Island in Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste lies close to Indonesia and about 375 miles away from Australia. Timor-Leste’s economy is very dependent on its offshore oil and gas resources. They generate more than 90% of the country’s revenue. A public-private partnership has been established to build a new seaport at Tibar Bay, west of the capital Dili, with an expected investment of about $490 million. Construction began in June 2017. “The new port is planned to handle the commercial cargo operations of the existing Port of Dili, which is highly congested with limited expansion possibilities.”

**Zhang Ping, special envoy and also vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China said that China is willing to continuously make efforts with Timer-Leste to strengthen the alignment of their development strategies, actively engage in cooperation based on the OBOR Initiative and constantly push ahead a comprehensive partnership. Timor-Leste’s new President Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo said that his country supports and actively participates in the OBOR construction. Lu-Olo also said that Timor-Leste is willing to further strengthen its cooperation with China in various fields and constantly enhance relations between the two countries.

Turkmenistan

*Situated in the southwest of Central Asia and bordering Kazakhstan to the northwest and Uzbekistan to the north and east, Turkmenistan has budget surpluses resulting from the development of energy sources and commodities such as oil, natural gas and cotton. It has extremely large gas deposits underneath the Karakum Desert (which occupies 70% of the land area of Turkmenistan) gas is the core of Turkmenistan’s economy. These gas sources include the Galkynysh gas field, which has the second-largest volume of gas in the world after the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf.

It’s the Year of the Dog in China but here in Ashgabat, this year’s slogan is:”Turkmenistan is the heart of the Great Silk Road”. This, like much else in Turkmenistan, has been decreed by its strongman President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. He has declared the nation to be a linchpin of central Asia’s new era of prosperity and promise. To illustrate its commitment, a container and ferry seaport has opened on the Caspian Sea, linking Turkmenistan with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia. There are also plans for a superhighway to Turkey, and more natural gas and oil exports.

***“Looked at from Turkmenistan, the motivation behind the OBOR Initiative includes promoting rapid economic development in China’s sprawling western Xinjiang province to contain its large, restive, Turkic language-speaking and Muslim Uyghur population. Many Uyghurs live in Turkmenistan, where the language spoken is close to their own.” Whatever the precise interpretations of China’s motives, Turkmenistan has climbed on board the OBOR Initiative.
***Turkmenistan dreaming: Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow’s big bet on Belt and Road, Financial Review, by Andrew Clark, April 27, 2018

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan Is very focused on the cultivation and processing of cotton, fruits, vegetables and grain (wheat, rice and corn).” Uzbekistan, is also a world leader in terms of its gas, coal and uranium resources, while also said to have more than 1,800 different mineral reserves.” It has population of over 30 million. It is the most populous country in Central Asia, accounting for 45% of the total population. This, however, has not led to the formation of a lucrative consumer market, despite the country enjoying average GDP growth of more than 8% per annum over the past decade.

Uzbekistan uses the Latvian seaport of Riga and also has some of the shortest overland routes connecting Europe and Asia.

****“Uzbekistan is located at the heart of Transport Corridor Europe–Caucasus–Asia (TRACECA) and three of the six Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) corridors. Dating back to Soviet times, rail and road transport have been the country’s key and cheapest means of transport. According to current estimates, some 95% of cargo travelling through or to Uzbekistan still travels by road or rail.”

Uzbekistan was a key participant in the ancient Silk Road hundreds of years ago. When the OBOR Initiative was first raised by President Xi Jinping in 2013 the country responded to China’s initiative immediately, and signed agreements with the Chinese government, including investment and infrastructure construction for the Initiative.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev stated: “We believe participating in the OBOR Initiative meets the priority of our five-year development strategy for Uzbekistan 2017 – 2021.”
****Belt and Road a ‘great opportunity’: Uzbek official
China Daily, By Ren Qi, December 12, 2017

Vietnam

*”Vietnam is the sixth largest economy in the 10-member ASEAN bloc, trailing the Philippines yet followed by Myanmar. Its service, industry and agriculture sectors account for, respectively, 44%, 39% and 17% of GDP. Major industry and service sectors of the country include manufacturing, mining, construction, real estate and finance.

There were anti-Chinese riots in 2014, which damaged foreign-invested factories. The Vietnamese government undertook a series of remedial measures, including tax breaks and land rent exemption, to compensate the affected companies. Security conditions were reportedly enhanced that has improved foreign investors’ confidence has gradually improved, with investors remaining positive on Vietnam’s business environment and economic potential.

Vietnam’s top export markets in 2016 were the U.S., China and Japan.
Major imported items in 2016 consisted of machinery, equipment and parts, and electronics, computers and accessories. A large part of Vietnam’s imported capital goods is related to export assembly. China is the largest source of Vietnam’s imports, followed by Korea and Japan.

*****Vietnam, considered a key part of the maritime component of China’s ambitious OBOR Initiative, is a land full of opportunity. In particular, there has been a focus on Northern Vietnam’s Haiphong Port, with plans to complete a major facilities upgrade by the end of 2017. Haiphong is a key element along two of the proposed trade corridors. One is along a route connecting Nam Ninh, Lang Son, Hanoi and Haiphong, while the second connects Kunming, Lao Cai, Hanoi and Haiphong. “These proposals would see Vietnam playing an enhanced role in transporting goods produced in the Chinese mainland, while opening the local consumer market to external suppliers. Improved links are also expected to help develop Vietnam’s own industrial base.”
*****China’s One Belt One Road Initiative, WHAT IS BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE?, Medium, By Markus Patrick Chan, September 9, 2017

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