The new Silk Road region is emerging from decades of centrally planned economies
that were closed to foreign investment, and the current business environment does not meet
international best practices in many respects.
Despite an overall opening of the economies to international investment, the business/investment legal and regulatory frameworks of the Silk Road countries are still evolving, public institutions are still adjusting to their new roles
of providing services and good governance, and certain types of human resource skills such
as modern management can be in short supply.
Nonetheless, the Silk Road region may be one of the world’s most potentially lucrative
untapped investment locations. It has an abundance of natural resources such as petroleum,
natural gas, hydropower and minerals. It also excels at producing agricultural goods such
as cotton, fruits and vegetables, meat and animal hides, and seed oils. The famed cities and
attractions along the Silk Road make for an intriguing tourism destination. In addition, the
Silk Road countries have an educated workforce.
The Investment Guide to the Silk Road is an integral part of UNCTAD’s work in the Silk
Road region, which comprises the States of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
and the Western Chinese provinces. The first phase of the project was part of the UNDPUNWTO-
UNCTAD Silk Road Initiative.
This Guide is intended to give readers comprehensive introductory information about the investment climate and opportunities in the Silk Road region, but its primary goal is to encourage potential investors to explore in more detail their
own ideas for possible regional investment projects.
The publication was jointly prepared with UNDP China in 2006 and was updated by UNCTAD in 2009, and includes an abstract from an UNCTAD report on an investment promotion strategy for the tourism sector of China’s Silk Road Provinces and Autonomous Regions.