The first train connecting Iran and China loaded with Chinese goods arrived in Tehran Monday, reviving the ancient Silk Road trade route and highlighting the economic possibilities for Iran since the lifting of international sanctions, AFP reports. The 5,900-mile trip from eastern Zhejiang province took 14 days, or 30 days less than a typical sea voyage between Shanghai and the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, according to the head of the Iranian railway company, Mohsen Pourseyed Aqayi.
Tehran is not the train's final stop, though. According to Aqayi, the plan is to lengthen the routes into Europe, which would give Iran the opportunity to raise even more money from passing trains. The country recently sent its first shipment of crude oil to Europe via shipping container, Bloomberg reports.
30 days less than a typical sea voyage
China was one of the few world powers that did not have sanctions against Iran. More than a third of Iran's foreign trade is with China, which is Tehran's top oil customer. A spokesperson for Iran's rail company told AFP that future trains from China would arrive with greater frequency, starting at once a month and increasing from there. The leaders of both countries agreed to a 10-year, $600 billion trade partnership last month.
The Silk Road is an ancient network of trade routes dating back to 220 BCE, connecting China to the Mediterranean Sea. It was a significant player in the rise of both Eastern and Western civilizations, including China, India, Greece, Rome, and Persia. In 2013, the president of China proposed the idea of creating a new Silk Road through Russia and the Ukraine into Europe. Under the title "One Belt, One Road," this plan is China's new national vision to improve its connectivity to Europe, Asia, and Africa.