Specialists with the China Association of Social Sciences have analyzed the economic influences of the railway in detail. They predict it will accelerate the development of the Tibetan economy and improve living standards in general.
To assist with the continuous economic development of Tibet
Tibet's special geographic position determines that it depends on other parts of the nation. The existing road transportation network is insufficient and expensive which limited the economic development of the region.
According to Tibet's GDP statistics, the region's economy greatly depends on the amount of freight in and out of Tibet. With the construction of Qinghai-Tibet railway, a type of bottleneck will be consigned to history and a substantial foundation will be in place to help boost local economic growth.
To reduce the cost of transportation
Construction is now one of the fastest growing industries in Tibet. According to experts, the growth of the industry relies upon the availability of building materials. Limited resources in Tibet mean it is unable to develop its own building materials industry especially in cement production. Just the transportation costs raised the price of cement significantly. The price in Tibet is about 750-800 yuan (about US$94-100) per ton whereas it's about 330 yuan (about US$41) per ton in Beijing. The railway will result in transportation costs being cut and that will be reflected in the price of a range of goods including cement.
To develop the tourist industry
The Qinghai-Tibet railway will help to promote tourism in Tibet. According to the statistics from 1995 to 2001, the number of visitors to Tibet increased by 20 percent annually and the average profit earned by local businesses from each visitor was around 1,100 yuan (about US$138). After the railway is fully operational, tourist numbers will increase by about 30 percent annually from 2006 to 2010. So in 2010 there'll be approximately 5.28 million tourists visiting Tibet and the income from them could be as much as 5.8 billion yuan (US$725 million).
The mine resources in Tibet are abundant. The chrome output alone accounts for more than 90 percent of that produced in the whole country. And the reserves of copper, boron, magnesium, sulfur, corundum and dolomite are also significant. Tibet has world ranking copper and lithium reserves. Experts estimate the lithium reserves in Tibet account for more than half of those globally. More than 2,000 saline lakes can be found in Tibet which occupy more than 60,000 square kilometers. More than a dozen types of mineral resources are known to be in these lakes. Experts say mineral resources can be found near the railway which would allow for exploration work to be carried out efficiently. Some of these areas are extremely poor so mining operations could make a significant difference in helping alleviate poverty.
Bringing Tibet to a new market
Tibet has many wild plant species such as plateau edible fungus, Rhodiola and the like. The mineral water in Tibet contains many microelement and is completely without any pollution. Because of the high transportation costs these products are seldom seen on sale outside Tibet. Experts have predicted that with the railway these very special local products will be on sale more widely and Tibet social economy will develop to a new level.