Visiting Fellow Program 2020: Identification and Spatial Mapping of Economic Clusters in CAREC

Sep 2020; CAREC Institute

Dr. Syed Muhammad Hasan of Lahore University of Management Sciences analyzed transformation of CAREC transport corridors (passing through Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of the PRC, Pakistan, and Tajikistan) from a simple transport infrastructure to a driver of economic growth by using satellite imagery data and GIS based techniques such as Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). The analysis revealed that across a multitude of indicators such as population growth, economic activity variation, road density differences and change of land use, the values within the influence zone of the corridor are heterogenous across countries but significantly higher (Tajikistan being an exception in population growth variable) in comparison with the country-wide averages determined from national statistics.

The above analysis points out variations in the impact of CAREC investments across countries. Such differences may arise on account of inherent heterogeneity and this is evident in Tajikistan where the impact of improvement in the transport infrastructure is relatively less distinct. This highlights the need for further analysis of the Tajikistan case to determine the constraints for development. A related aspect is to identify the potential for economic growth based on existing resources.

The results obtained in this study indicate that Tajikistan needs massive interventions to truly reap the benefits of its strategic location whereby it serves as a bridge for the transit of goods and services between the PRC, Central Asia, South Asia, and Middle East. Its road infrastructure comprising three Asian highways (AH 7, 65 and 66) and four of the six CAREC transit corridors (2, 3, 5 and 6) provides the country with an unmatched potential to act as a major transportation hub in the Hub-and-Spoke model which provides greater flexibility within the transport system through a concentration of flows. To assume the role of a transportation hub, it is imperative to attain significant improvements in indicators determining the Logistics Performance Index (LPI). This approach shall ensure quick benefits from its transportation infrastructure by improving systems and procedures regulating transit goods and hence be a reasonable strategy for Tajikistan.

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