Trans-Eurasian Transportation Networks and the Opportunities and Challenges of Economic Integration within Wider Eurasia: Role of Kazakhstan

One of Kazakhstan’s primary goals has been to promote deeper economic, diplomatic, and social ties in Central Asia. Kazakh officials and analysts believe that regional economic integration will help Kazakhstan and its neighbors diversify their economies, enhance their competitiveness, and achieve deeper integration into the world economy. With its strong economic development and commitment to regional economic integration, Kazakh leaders seek to drive integration of regional transportation networks among Eurasian states. In turn, they anticipate that greater transport integration will enhance regional trade, investment, and prosperity. Access to multiple viable transportation routes would provide strategic benefits not only for Kazakhstan, enhancing its national autonomy, but also for other countries, by promoting geopolitical pluralism in the former Soviet space. However, transportation development in Eurasia has been impeded by unresolved disputes over borders, trade, visas, illegal migration, and natural resources such as water and gas, exacerbated by the current economic slowdown and proliferation of sanctions. In order for Kazakhstan to realize its goal, it must work with regional and global partners – especially those in Central Asia and the South Caucasus – to accelerate progress on critical transportation projects.

Authors: Richard Weitz