Trade in our world is as old as civilization itself. International and inter-continental commercial trade routes began to take shape from around 1,500 B.C. in Asia. The West Asian, Chinese and Indian societies were the first ones to develop major transportation networks for the purposes of commercial trade.
Before we review the modern trade routes in Asia, we must take a look at the ancient trade routes to understand the historic importance of trade in Asia.
ANCIENT TRADE ROUTES IN ASIA
THE INCENSE ROUTE: It was a combined land plus waterway route that served the role of a trading channel for Indian, Middle Eastern and East Asian cargoes.
THE SILK ROUTE: It was primarily a road route, which became one of the earliest connections between the eastern and the western civilizations. The Silk Roads became a significant outlet for the spread of Buddhism and other cultural exchanges and interactions which were supported by various empires of that period.
THE GRAND TRUNK ROUTE: The Grand Trunk Road, connecting India and Pakistan, is one of the oldest roads in the world, having existed for over two thousand years. And till today it remains one of the crucial routes for trade in Southeast Asia. Over the periods of history, this road has served not only as a trade route for commercial cargoes, but also fostered exchange of ideas, cultures, languages, and knowledge.
THE SPICE ROUTE: India became the largest exporter of spices to the western world, and the spice route became an important connection between India, Middle East and the Greco-Roman regions.
MODERN TRADE ROUTES IN ASIA:
In modern times, the trade network is highly technologically advanced and complex like a spider’s web. Large volumes of trade are carried out by the means of Road networks (Highways), Railway networks, Maritime networks (sea routes), and Air networks (air routes).
China is fast emerging as one of the largest trading nations in the world, and in recent years, it has invested large amounts of money to develop extensive infrastructures to facilitate international trade. As a result China is becoming a crucial East Asian gateway to Central Asia and Europe.
Lianyugang port of China, and the busy European port of Rotterdam (Holland) have been connected together by a grand, 11,000 kms long railway link. The Tianjin port in China has also become an important link for trade with western Europe and Russia.
Russia has developed major ports along the Black Sea and Caspian Sea coasts, in order to encourage maximum trade with western Europe and Asia through its territories.
The North-South Corridor is a major inter-continental transportation route, which has Mumbai port of India as one of its major starting points. Ships then go towards the Bandar Abbas transportation hub in Iran, which serves the entire Persian Gulf region. Currently, the Bandar Abbas hub is handling the maximum trade volumes between India and Central Asia.