Thursday, April 30, 2015

Silk Road Rejuvenation.

For those that know about the Silk Road and/or the Orient Express train route, there is a great history of culture, trade, tourism, adventure and war. The traditional routes go above, below and through the Caspian Sea. This rejuvenation will also entail energy trade (oil/gas pipelines) along the traditional routes as well as from the South China Sea into Central Asia. With the rejuvenation there is an economic area spanning from Indonesia to Ethiopia to Central Europe to North China. This is a huge area experiencing great obstacles. The major obstacles are the well known wars which have raged on for decades if not centuries. The Afghanistan war stretches into all neighbouring countries. Iran, Syria and Iraq has put huge questions into trade with anyone for quite some time. Ethiopia and East Africa has endured millenniums of strife. Lastly the unease amongst the countries surrounding the South China Sea also has impacts on the new trade efforts. On the plus side there are two major economic forces which are working to find solutions. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) is one force. The other is a new development called the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Now these efforts will employ a version of trickle down economics. We know from experience that the top down format of trickle down economics has not been as great a saviour as we had hoped. In the last twenty years of peacebuilding we have understood the need for a multilevel approach to society. Such a topic will get extremely complex very quickly. The management of this complexity is what will be of utmost importance. At present there are a number of phrases that relate to this complexity such as, All of government approach, 3D approach (development, diplomacy, disarmament), sector security reform, community based approach, micro lending, corporate social responsibility (CSR), multinational agreements and many others. The BRICS economic group has been around for some time. The AIIB is very new, actually still being formulated. However the support being put into AIIB has been rumoured at $146 billion (US$) and that is just the beginning of the pledges. Both of these groups will no doubt work together and that will produce a very large and influential group. During the next decade or so, we will experience the emergence of this new partnership. As always great things can be done to advance our entire world towards peace. Such a journey will have its share of difficulties. Already opposition to the emerging economic partnership has caused rifts amongst countries. Some see these new partnerships as a slow power grab or at least influence when large economies begin to work with the smallest economies. These situations are common place and defined in a phrase known as Tied Aid, which is illegal. Tied Aid is the practice of donating money to a country with the condition of spending that money in the donor country. Sometimes the tie is to secure a countries support on certain topics, basically a bribe. There are many pitfalls and positives as always. Either way we are in for an amazing time as the rejuvenation of an ancient trade route is reopened.

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