Just as ancient transcontinental trade networks generated prosperity, security and political stability in Asia, a 21st-century Silk Road could secure Asia’s future. The Asian continent is undergoing a great economic transformation that presents tremendous opportunities for all countries in the region. At present, however, regional tensions mean that this potential is not being harnessed. Without a vision for a different future and a program of action to realize it, the opportunity will be lost.
These issues will converge with great intensity on the issue of harnessing the abundant mineral wealth of Asia. Afghanistan alone is estimated to possess between one and three trillion dollars in mineral wealth. The international community has an opportunity to support this agenda by championing a new model of contracting that minimizes wasteful sub-contracting chains and creates new partnerships between international experts and regional industry. This new model should simplify and clarify international norms and standards and build state capacity to monitor and regulate.