Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced the launch of the historic India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor, a mega initiative involving Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Italy, Germany and US, giving a new direction to connectivity and sustainable development of entire world, reported the Press Trust of India.
The announcement of a multimodal transport and energy corridor between India and Europe via the Middle East today at the G20 summit marks a breakthrough in post-Partition India’s quest for deeper connectivity with the regions to the north-west of the Subcontinent.
Long anxious about China’s connectivity projects in the region under its decade-old Belt and Road Initiative, frustrated by Pakistan’s refusal to allow overland access and a futile quest for credible connectivity through Iran into the Eurasian landmass, India has finally found a formula to connect to both Arabia and Europa.
"Today we all have reached an important and historic partnership. In the coming times, it will be a major medium of economic integration between India, West Asia and Europe," said PM Modi, addressing the world leaders.
The idea of ship and rail connectivity between India and the Arabian peninsula came up when National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met his US counterpart Jake Sullivan in May this year.
Since then, the idea has acquired much traction a lot faster than anticipated. The presence of all the key actors in New Delhi for the G20 summit, including the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the United States, provided the opportunity to unveil the formal framework for pursuing this transformative project, reported The Indian Express.
This corridor will give a new direction to connectivity and sustainable development of entire world, said the Indian Premier.
The US President Joe Biden termed the launch of the India-Middle East “a big deal” and said that one is going to hear the phrase economic corridor more often in the coming decade.
“This is a real big deal. I want to thank PM Modi. One Earth, One Family, One Future that's the focus of this G 20 Summit. And in many ways, it's also the focus of this partnership that we're talking about today. Building sustainable, resilient infrastructure, making quality infrastructure investments and creating a better future. A future that presents greater prosperity and dignity for everyone,” said Biden.
“I want to highlight the key ways in which the United States and our partners are working to make this a reality. Economic corridor. You're going to hear that phrase more than once, I expect, over the next decade. As we work to address infrastructure gaps across low-middle-income countries, we need to maximize the impact of our investments. That's why a few months ago announced that the United States will work with our partners to invest in economic corridors,” he said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen too commended the Indian PM for the landmark initiative. Terming it historic, she said it would be the most direct connection to date between India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe.
"We are presenting two large-scale projects today. First the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor. This is nothing but historic. It would be the most direct connection to date between India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe, with a rail link that would make the trade between India and Europe 40% faster. With an electricity cable and hydrogen pipeline to foster clean energy trade between the Middle East and Europe. This corridor is much more than a railway or cable corridor. It is a green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations," she said.
"In this spirit, we announce the second project: The trans-African Corridor which will connect the port of Lobito in Angola with Katanga province in DRC and the copper belt in Zambia," stated the European Commission President.
The UAE has pledged to work alongside the Governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Member States of the European Union, the Republic of India, and the United States on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), reported Wam.
The announcement was made in the presence of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the sidelines of the 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit held in New Delhi, India, where the UAE is participating as a guest of honour.
The establishment of the corridor aims to significantly enhance connectivity and integration between participating countries and will be comprised of two different pathways – the east corridor connecting India to the Arabian Gulf and the northern corridor connecting it to Europe.
The cross-border ship-to-rail transit corridors will reduce shipping costs across the network and facilitate trade in goods and services to, from, and between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, and Europe.
Participants will also assess the potential of electricity and clean hydrogen exports to enhance regional supply chains and connectivity as part of joint efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions and integrate environmental conservation in the initiative.
The UAE’s cooperation on this initiative reflects the country’s efforts to strengthen its international partnerships and contribute towards a sustainable future, particularly in advance of its hosting of the upcoming COP28 climate conference in November, the report added.
Participants are looking forward to working together to establish coordinating bodies that will address a range of technical, financial, legal, and regulatory affairs. In the coming period, participants will also meet to advance the design and implementation of the transit network, it added.