January 19th, 2012
11:08 AM GMT
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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (CNN) – China is thirsty for oil to fuel its economic boom – and it’s increasingly looking to Saudi Arabia to help quench that thirst.

Saudi Arabia produces nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day – about the same as China consumes. That’s why the Kingdom is at the heart of China's energy strategy to secure more resources from the Gulf region.

Chinese energy giant Sinopec recently signed a joint venture with Saudi’s Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, that will lock-in an additional 400,000 barrels of oil per day by 2014.

It’s a sign of China’s eagerness to boost economic and political ties to Saudi Arabia.


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January 12th, 2012
10:59 AM GMT
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Kashgar, China (CNN) – China is investing hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize some of the historic trading towns on its western frontier. But critics say modernization is happening at a cost to the region’s cultural heritage.

In the ancient market city of Kashgar, traders have been wheeling and dealing for thousands of years. For centuries, the city was dominated by the Uighurs - a Turkic speaking Muslim people - now considered a minority group in China.

The government is now investing heavily to revive this sleepy backwater and transform it into a modern day boom town.

Yet critics say there the Uighur's cultural heritage is being lost.


January 5th, 2012
11:20 AM GMT
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Thimphu, Bhutan (CNN) – Bhutan, the last of the Himalayan kingdoms, has largely been closed to foreigners and foreign business. But while its government measures progress by "gross national happiness," it is now looking to develop economically, and is looking to its neighbours for help.

Bhutan’s culture has remained intact for centuries and its landscape, as well as the government's mandate to keep its people happy, has a mystical quality. But it is also a developing nation struggling to find prosperity for its people.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley told CNN’s Sara Sidner: "The truth is, Bhutan is a poor developing country that is still significantly dependent on the support and the goodwill of the international community. We are in other words an aid-dependent country."

For centuries, Bhutan cut itself off from the outside world. There were no roads until the 1960s, no foreign tourists allowed until the 70s and no television until 1999. But there is a significant shift going on here in the 21st century.

Bhutan is now opening up to business beyond its borders. But the leadership refuses to do business at the expense of its unique environment and demands that businesses inside and outside the country are in line with its unique policy of “gross national happiness.”


December 29th, 2011
01:55 PM GMT
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Dubai, UAE (CNN) - China's fast-emerging middle class is providing a lifeline to the UAE's tourism ambitions, with the trickle of Chinese visitors to Dubai rapidly becoming a flood.

The drama and the glamor of the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, have made it one of the Middle East's glitziest draws for Chinese travelers. The UAE has spent millions of dollars on its luxury hotels and designer brands, which are proving increasingly appealing to the Chinese customer.

Last year the number of hotel guests in the UAE arriving from China jumped nearly 40%, but they're still only a small portion of the total tourists.

“The number of arrivals from China in 2010 was about 150,000 out of 8 million,” Liz Martins, a senior economist at HSBC MENA, told CNN’s Leone Lakhani.

She added: “It's a very early stage, but I think there are marketing efforts and where you're getting trade links, investment links and contracting links throughout the rest of the economy, actually that feeds through to a greater awareness - a mutual awareness between the markets - and that creates potential.”


December 22nd, 2011
10:02 AM GMT
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Editor's note: "Along the Silk Road" is a weekly segment on Global Exchange, that will explore the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia. Watch Global Exchange, on CNN International, Sunday to Thursday 1100 ET, 1600 GMT and 1700 CET.

Baku, Azerbaijan (CNN) – Azerbaijan was once known as the gateway between China and Europe, where ancient transport links were crucial in transporting goods east to west on the silk trading route. Now, in the capital Baku, authorities are developing the country's transport infrastructure to claim Azerbaijan as a central stop on the new Silk Road.

“The road to development begins with the development of roads, so clearly it's a very crucial element of allowing the flow of goods between people so that markets can function,” Joseph Owen, World Bank manager for Azerbaijan, told CNN’s Becky Anderson.

Today the region is focused is on the TRACECA project - a Transport Corridor of Europe, the Caucuses and Asia.

Azerbaijan is located in the very center of the TRACECA project and it's a gateway to both Europe and Asia.


December 15th, 2011
10:53 AM GMT
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Cape Town (CNN) – Asian trade and investment in Africa is growing, but where investment in Africa has traditionally concentrated on natural resources, India is looking to diversify its interests in the African continent.

In recent years, India has made new inroads into African markets. Tata, which is owned by one of India's richest men, recently built a new truck-manufacturing plant outside Pretoria, South Africa, producing heavy vehicles that are sold in Africa.

“You cannot constantly keep importing finished vehicles,” Raman Dhawan, who runs Tata's African operations, told CNN's Robyn Curnow.

“We've started actually with just assembling the commercial vehicles, which is the trucks and bus chassis, and so as we move forward, yes, we will explore others,” he added. “So the basic thing is that you must put investment, add value locally and that's what we've really followed.”


December 8th, 2011
10:35 AM GMT
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Editor's note: "Along the Silk Road" is a weekly segment on Global Exchange, that will explore the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia. Watch Global Exchange, on CNN International, Sunday to Thursday 1100 ET, 1600 GMT and 1700 CET.

Erbil, northern Iraq (CNN) - In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, Erbil Citadel is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world.

More than 7,000 years old, it is a reminder of a timeless past in a fast-changing present. Beneath it, the city of Erbil is undergoing rapid development, with five-star hotels and luxury housing complexes joining its skyline.

Liberated from Saddam Hussein's persecution, Iraq's Kurds are in the midst of an economic boom. Oil rigs dot the hills and foreign companies are coming to Kurdistan enticed by the black gold beneath the land.

But the deals being cut by the Kurdistan regional government are not going down well with Iraq's central government, which says it alone has authority to sign lucrative oil and gas deals.

The Kurds’ response? Not any more.

“There is no way that we will be dissuaded from our constitutional right to developing our resources and allow ourselves to ever again become hostages to the whims of some bureaucrats in Baghdad," says Barham Salih, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

“We've been there before. Oil was used to strangle our people, to commit genocide,” he adds.

In the late 1980s Saddam Hussein led a vicious campaign against the Kurds, forcibly displacing them from their homes and replacing them with Arabs.

Entire villages were razed to the ground. Some, like Hajabja, were gassed with deadly chemical agents.

After the Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein in 1991, the United States and allies came to their aid with a no-fly zone to keep Iraqi forces out. Kurdish militia - known as Peshmerga - joined American troops during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Now the Kurds boast their region is "the other Iraq" - safe, peaceful, stable.

“I believe Kurdistan is now an important hub of economic activity, is an important market in its own right, but it is even more important when you think of it as a gateway to a larger Iraqi market,” says Salih.

“This is our vision.  We want Kurdistan to be the indispensable link to trade and commerce, economic cooperation among our neighbors.”

Part of that vision is the American University of Iraq, in Sulaimaniya, where Salih chairs the board of trustees. Its mission is to train the next generation of Kurdish talent.

Azzam Alwash, executive secretary of the board of trustees, says: “We want to expand (the) free market and we think that our students who graduate knowing English will be the raw material from which the oil companies, the accounting companies, the engineering companies, will recruit.”

December 1st, 2011
10:05 AM GMT
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Editor's note: "Along the Silk Road" is a weekly segment on Global Exchange, that will explore the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia. Watch Global Exchange, on CNN International, Sunday to Thursday 1100 ET, 1600 GMT and 1700 CET.

Gujarat, India (CNN) –  A prolonged economic slump in the West has prompted India to broaden its economic ties and look east - to China.

Indian exports to China jumped nearly 70% last year, according to an Indian research report. It was partly on account of a loosening of export controls to keep prices afloat, but also a sign that China is becoming an increasingly important export market.

Rajiv Kumar is secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He said: “With the sluggishness in the American and European market, I think it was bound to happen, and I can see within FICCI there is opportunity.

“When a Chinese delegation comes there is greater participation and all of this is a sign that the Indian industry is getting more interested towards the Chinese future.”

China is India's largest trading partner, but trade between the two countries is imbalanced. India's imports from China are worth roughly $40 billion, while its exports are worth around half of that.

While some Chinese imports help these street vendors in India make money, not everyone is happy.

“I'm not pleased at all. It's like someone's taking away your bread and butter,” said Vinit Dalal of Dalal Machine Tools Agency.

Dalal sells used metal forging equipment in India. Now, he says, China is selling brand new equipment in India for the same price. As a result, his sales are slowing down.

“If someone is getting a brand new manufactured machine at the same price as I am supplying a used one, of course he's going to go for the new, with a two-year warranty and everything - so that's the problem,” said Dalal.

FICCI says such imbalanced trade between India and China cannot continue.

“The way it can improve is to facilitate Chinese investment into India and to export from those firms back to China and having a lot more joint ventures in India with Chinese firms, which can create those capacities from which we can export back to China,” said Kumar.

November 17th, 2011
01:02 AM GMT
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Editor's note: "Along the Silk Road" is a weekly segment on Global Exchange, that will explore the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia. Watch Global Exchange, on CNN International, Sunday to Thursday 1100 ET, 1600 GMT and 1700 CET.

Dubai (CNN) – It is a trade link dating back half a century - spreading from the far reaches of Asia to Africa.

From caravans carrying loads of goods across the deserts of the Middle East to ships sailing precious cargo to Europe, the ancient Silk Road is now being reborn and rebuilt.

One man who is following the progress of its growth is Ben Simpfendorfer - author of the Silk Road Economy.

CNN’s John Defterios met with him in the financial heart of the Middle East, Dubai, and asked him about the significance of these new trade links.

Along the Silk Road

“Along the Silk Road” explores the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia – Beijing, Mumbai, Istanbul, Kabul, Moscow, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Dubai.

The series surveys the export-driven economies, countries with vast capitals of reserve and natural resources, that economic forecasters pinpoint as ringleaders of growth for the next quarter of a century.

Catch “Along the Silk Road” every Wednesday on CNN International within Global Exchange:

1100 ET
1600 GMT
1700 CET

Follow the show on Twitter @CNNGlobalEx and use the hashtag #CNNGlobalEx to join the conversation.

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