The World Bank has approved a $1.07bn loan to Kazakhstan for the construction of a new highway connecting Almaty city with Khorgos, a Chinese town close to the Kazakhstan – China border.

The project, which is expected to be completed in 2015, is known as Development of East-West Roadways (Almaty to Khorgos section): Western Europe (WE)-Western China (WC) International Transit Corridor.

Construction of the project is estimated to cost $1.25bn, of which the remaining $188.5m after the loan will be financed by the Kazakh government.

The new 305km-long road from Almaty to Khorgos will be the main transit link between China, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries, with a potential to improve trade flows and regional economic conditions.

It will be the final section of the 2,700km-long road on the Western Europe-Western China link across Kazakhstan. The route will travel from the Russian border in the west and to China in the east.

"Construction of the project is estimated to cost $1.25bn, of which the remaining $188.5m after the loan will be financed by the Kazakh government."

Kazakhstan Minister of Finance Bolat Zhamishev said that the East-West Roads Project will complete the upgrade of the corridor.

"Aimed at improving the efficiency of the transport link from Almaty, one of the main economic centres of Central Asia, to Khorgos, the main road border crossing between Kazakhstan and China, the project will help improve access to markets, enhance business opportunities and create more jobs," the minister noted.

The new project is expected to result in efficient transport, reduced road-user costs and an enhanced level of services along sections of the WE-WC Road Corridor, while also leading to lower road traffic injuries and an increased travel speed.

The World Bank is currently lending a total of $2.12bn to Kazakhstan under the on-going South-West Roads Project in order to provide significant economic benefits to the country, as well as to the Central Asia region.