unctad.org | Investment Guide to the Silk Road
Investment Guide to the Silk Road
Book Information


Lying at the heart of the ancient Silk Road, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the four western Chinese provinces (Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Xinjiang) are part of a historic hub of exchange of goods, culture and technology between East and West, dating back more than 2 000 years. However, as a result of the fall of ancient empires, strife and the emergence of new forms of transport, the trade route of antiquity gradually fell into disuse for centuries.

Its potential only revived after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, when the Central Asian countries commenced their transformation to market economies and their reintegration into the world economy. During the same period, western China benefited from the rapid growth of China’s economy.

The Silk Road region as a whole has experienced strong economic growth and is emerging as an important foreign investment destination.

Various investment opportunities and an improved investment climate are attracting international investors to the region. Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the region have risen from $2 billion to over $19 billion a year in the last decade.

Notable investors in the region include Coca-Cola, General Motors, Toyota and Siemens. These international investors are attracted by economic growth, improved productivity and the availability of exceptional resources, including a skilled labour force. The enactment of laws and regulations protecting foreign investment also provides investors with a more secure investment environment.

In 2013 the World Bank identified the Silk Road countries as one of the regions that has made the most progress in improving the ease of doing business. A network of investment treaties and double taxation agreements also signals the increasing openness of the region to international investment.

This guide provides potential investors with information on the Silk Road to illustrate the various investment opportunities in Central Asia, and familiarize themselves with the region.

  • Chapter I introduces the region and individual economies, and summarizes the extensive history of the Silk Road, from its ancient prosperity to its current revival.
  • Chapter II provides the reader with information about the economic conditions of each country and the region as a whole.
  • Chapter III outlines investment opportunities in selected sectors in the Silk Road countries.
  • The Appendices provide brief overviews of the investment regulatory framework in each of the Silk Road countries.

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, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the four western Chinese provinces of Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Xinjiang.

The first edition of the publication was jointly prepared with UNDP China in 2006. The guide was updated and published by UNCTAD in 2009.

This 2014 update includes for the first time Turkmenistan.


Investment Guide to the Silk Road (UNCTAD/DIAE/2014/3)

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