Kinas nya sidenvägar: effekter på svensk handel och svenska transporter

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VTI has been commissioned by Trafikanalys to assess how initiated and announced infrastructure investments within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can impact Swedish trade and Swedish transports. BRI is a global development strategy launched by China in 2013 and is expected to continue until 2049. By March 2019, the initiative comprised 125 countries and 29 international organizations that cooperated within 173 coordination agreements in various constellations. In this report, the focus is on infrastructure investments that are carried out to facilitate trade between Asia and Europe.

The analyzed outcome is only connected to changes in transport time and trade costs. No assessment is made on how BRI may affect economic growth in different countries, which would further impact Swedish and international trade. In total, 93 infrastructure projects are included in the analysis, of which 67 are related to land transports (railways in particular) and 26 are related to maritime transports. There are three major railway routes that are included; a Trans-Siberian route through Russia that connects to the northern part of China, a route via Kazakhstan that connects to the north western parts of China, and a southern route via Turkey and Iran that connects to south western China. The route via Kazakhstan is the most utilized route today, while the southern route requires major investments. For maritime transports, most of the projects are reinforcements of port infrastructure along current routes from eastern China via the Suez canal, while there are also plans to develop the so called Thai canal to avoid the route around the Malay Peninsula, as well as to open waterways through the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Strait.

Effects on bilateral trade are estimated with an econometric (gravity) model, using trade flows and country specific variables during years 1988 to 2017. Specifically, the model is used to examine the effect of a reduction in trade frictions between countries. Changes in these trade frictions are based on calculations in de Soyres et al. (2018), indicating the potential improvements in transport times and trade costs generated by projects in BRI. In a second stage, the effects on Swedish transports are analyzed using the Swedish national model for freight transportation (Samgods), in which different transport solutions are estimated. In particular, these solutions are estimated with the commodity specific demand matrices in the Swedish Transport Administration’s (Trafikverkets) freight transport forecast for year 2040, as well as with demand matrices that are revised based on the BRI results from the gravity model. In addition, trade and transports are linked together based on descriptions of Sweden’s current trade with countries mostly affected by BRI and based on previous estimates of transport volumes and transport patterns for different commodity groups.

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