World Bank provides $1bn loan to drive Kazakh highway to China

By bne IntelliNews October 15, 2012

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The World Bank has issued a $1.07bn loan to Kazakhstan for the construction of a highway linking financial capital Almaty with Korgos on the Chinese border. The road is a key component of the Western Europe-Western China international transport corridor.

An agreement on the loan was signed in Astana on October 11, Interfax reports. Construction of the highway will cost a total of $1.257bn, with the remaining $188.5m being funded through the Kazakh budget, with work on the 305km road due to be completed in 2015.

"The project, aimed at improving transport connections from Almaty - one of the main economic centers in Central Asia - to Khorgos - the main roadway destination at the border between Kazakhstan and China, will make it possible to improve access to markets, increase opportunities for business, and create new jobs," Kazakhstan's Finance Minister Bolat Zhamishev said in a statement.

The Almaty-Khorgos road is the final segment of the 2,700km stretch of the Western Europe-Western China link across Kazakhstan. The route runs from the Russian border in the west to China in the east, with Astana hoping to make Kazakhstan a key transit country for growing trade on a route that is planned to eventually run all the way to the EU, mimicking the ancient Great Silk Road.

With the World Bank lending a total of $2.12bn to Kazakhstan under the "South-West Roads Project," it says it hopes it will provide "economic stimulus to some of Kazakhstan's poorest provinces," adding "the project will boost Kazakhstan's competitiveness and bring significant economic benefits both to Kazakhstan and to the broader Central Asia region."

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