According to the goals of the BRI, the New Silk Road is designed to create a Eurasian economic area, which runs from the eastern coast of China as far as the Atlantic Ocean and also includes countries on the continent of Africa. However, the New Silk Road passes through regions with very different climate conditions: ranging from arid areas and deserts to the highest mountains on the planet Earth with temperature fluctuations of between more than 40°C and -20°C, it is clear that transport operations along the old trading route are anything but simple.
The overland routes were considered more as a niche solution than a real alternative for transporting goods from east to west and vice versa for a long time. Running from China to south, west and central Asia and on via Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and western Russia as far as Central and Western Europe, the Silk Road Economic Belt tended to be more of a backup for the Maritime Silk Road, which runs from the Chinese coast and Southeast Asia as far as Europe via the Middle East and East Africa. The Maritime Silk Road is now the route for more than half of all containers transported worldwide. Demand is continuing to increase and trade along the New Silk Road could account for about 40 per cent of total world trade in future, according to some forecasts.