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Old 11-30-2013   #1
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Default The impact of new railways

On SWC we sort of understand the importance of logistics; railways are an important factor in politics and economics - even if in the West the auto-engine reigns supreme.

Two recent BBC News reports. First from Ethiopia:
Across the Ethiopian countryside 2,000km (1,243 miles) of railway is being built, the first phase of an endeavour to create a new 5,000km network....The centrepiece of the new rail system is the planned line between Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and the neighbouring country of Djibouti.

Then from Kenya:
Kenya has formally launched a new....railway which should extend across East Africa to reach South Sudan, DR Congo and Burundi. The first section will link the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, reducing the journey time from 15 hours to about four.
What is the common political factor, first Ethiopia:
Both projects began in early 2012 and are joint ventures between the Ethiopian government and Chinese companies that successfully bid for the $3.3bn (£2.2bn) Addis-Djibouti contract, and the $500m LRT project.
And Kenya:
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed the deal in August in Beijing.
Now what comes after such a large Chinese investment? SWC does have a thread on China's increasing role in the developing world (maybe not the thread's title).

Incidentally China's last big railway investment, the TanZam railway which opened in 1975 has been plagued with problems for many years. Last I heard it was due for renovation.
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Old 12-01-2013   #2
Bill Moore
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You can see the strategy if you simply read the business news. Globalism will likely expand in scale tremendously if these infrastructure projects are completed. Of course as you well know it is more than railroads, but railroads are a good indicator. You took us on a short visit to Africa, I'll introduce some developments (some in the works for a long time) in SE Asia.

Southeast Asia steps up investment in rail

10/10/2013 13:13:36

This week's Sunday Times highlights massive investment in transport infrastructure in South East Asia. Driving this, says the article, is "the compelling need to modernise in the face of competition from China". Also setting the tempo is a move by the 10 ASEAN economies to establish a single market and production base by 2015

China’s Charm Offensive Signals a New Strategic Era in Southeast Asia

In Bali, Xi set a target of increasing annual China-ASEAN trade to $1 trillion by 2020, up from $400 billion in 2012. The Chinese president also proposed the formation of an Asian infrastructure development bank that, if realized, would help regional countries diversify away from the U.S.- and Japan-dominated Asian Development Bank.
For Washington, it should be encouraging that Beijing is coming up with tangible ways to boost regional connectivity in Southeast Asia, a policy the United States also supports. But U.S. businesses should not, and cannot, afford to be absent from large regional infrastructure schemes. U.S. companies no longer compete with their Japanese and Korean rivals in the construction of roads and railroads in Southeast Asia. But U.S. companies still have a competitive advantage in telecommunications, the advanced recovery of oil and gas, energy projects, and the design and construction of airports and ports. Infrastructure projects will carry political and strategic implications well into the future. For instance, a transnational railway connecting mainland Southeast Asia to China promotes integration in a different fashion than a future economic corridor linking one end of mainland Southeast Asia to another.
This one is a little older (2010), but provides important context:

Southeast Asia One Step Closer to Linking Singapore and China in Massive Railway Network

Plans for a pan-Asian railroad have been in the works for decades, but today marked the first step toward linking a massive railway line from Singapore to Southwest China and beyond. It's called the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link (SKRL), and will connect domestic lines within several Southeast Asian nations. It spans 3,000 miles, connecting Singapore all the way to the Southwestern city of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province.
"We are on the cusp of a contiguous Iron Silk Road stretching from Singapore to Scotland," said ADB's Director General for Southeast Asia, Kunio Senga.
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