Can Central Asia become the bridge between the East and West?

As discussed in “Central Asian Trade Corridor Gains Interest Amid Regional Tensions” by Voice of America (VOA) from December 8, 2023, Central Asia is becoming an alternative pathway to Russia dominated trade routes. The Middle Corridor, also known as the Trans-Caspian route, is a transit network linking Asia with European markets through Central Asia.

In recent years, especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Trans-Caspian route has become an alternative to Russia-controlled routes. In 2023 the route reached only half of its total capacity while decreasing the delivery time from 38 days to 19 days.

While Turkmenistan is not yet part of this corridor, there are expectations that the route could be used to export Turkmen gas westward. Currently, Turkmenistan exports its gas mainly to China. However, the demand from China may not be reliable given that Russia provides cheaper gas and it has increased its gas exports to China in recent years.

Experts hope that the US and the EU will help develop the Middle Corridor and increase connectivity across the Black and Caspian seas. They see South Caucasus and Central Asia as a viable route to diminish Central and Eastern European states’ historic dependance on Russian resources and infrastructure.

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