The New Silk Road is the defacto label applied to the emerging network of infrastructure mega-projects, enhanced transportation routes, and economic and energy corridors that are designed to increase connectivity between countries from China to Europe -- spanning 65 nations, 65% of the world’s population, and 40% of the planet’s total GDP. Although this international mega-project has been underway for over a decade, China’s 2013 announcement of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI or OBOR) infused the plan with the financial, political, and marketing clout that it needed to have a real impact.
Currently in its initial stages, the New Silk Road is an endeavor that’s spearheaded by big governments and big international development banks. However, without investment from the private sector this project is little more than a naked framework of new highways and rail lines, vacant SEZs and underpopulated new cities.
“The resources required to develop OBOR are vast, with estimates between $2 trillion and $3 trillion per year. While government-backed financial institutions have been created, there is a need to address the gap between public and private funding,” DP World’s CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem adequately summed up.
However, such opportunities for private investment are starting to open up, as more profit-driven companies are jumping into the fray as this trans-continental network shows signs of coming to life. In no particular order, the following are eight big companies that are active along the New Silk Road.