India, the US, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.
Announced at the G20 Leaders’ event on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, this landmark corridor is expected to stimulate economic development through enhanced connectivity and economic integration across two continents, thus unlocking sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
It consists of two development corridors, one from India to the Middle East and a second from the Middle East to Europe.
It will include a rail line which, upon completion, will provide a reliable and cost-effective cross-border ship-to-rail transit network to supplement the existing multi-modal transport routes enhancing transhipment of goods and services between South East Asia through India to West Asia/Middle East Europe.
“This landmark corridor is expected to stimulate economic development through enhanced connectivity and economic integration across two continents, thus unlocking sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” the White House said in a statement.
Partners on the project signed a memorandum of understanding, committing to link commercial hubs with rail lines, bolstered by new internet, power and hydrogen connections. The memorandum also says the project will link with industry in Jordan and Israel.
“Participants intend that the corridor will increase efficiencies, reduce costs, enhance economic unity, generate jobs, and lower greenhouse gas emissions – resulting in a transformative integration of Asia, Europe and the Middle East,” the memorandum reads.
The nations committed to creating an action plan to implement the project within the next two months.
Addressing the G20 Summit, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the project seeks to achieve the common interests of “our countries by strengthening economic interdependence.”
He said it will contribute to developing and rehabilitating the infrastructure that includes railways, and ports and will help increase the exchange of goods and services.
The crown prince said the project will enhance trade exchange between the participating countries and boost the import of energy supplies including hydrogen to ensure energy security.
He noted that “the memorandum supports efforts to develop clean energy, and its implementation will contribute to generating new job opportunities and long-term gains along transit corridors for all parties.”
Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said the network reflected Biden’s vision for “far-reaching investments” that come from “effective American leadership” and a willingness to embrace other nations as partners.
He said the enhanced infrastructure would boost economic growth, help bring countries in the Middle East together and establish that region as a hub for economic activity instead of as a “source of challenge, conflict or crisis” as it has been in recent history.
Jon Finer, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters that the development of the corridor was consistent with the Biden administration’s push to “turn the temperature down” and “de-escalate conflicts” in the region, while increasing “connectivity”.
Biden seeks to counter China’s Belt and Road push on global infrastructure by pitching Washington as an alternative partner and investor for developing countries at the G20 grouping.
“This is a big deal. This is a really big deal,” Biden said.
At the event announcing the project, the US leader said the pact would unlock “endless opportunities” for clean energy, clean electricity, and laying cable to connect communities.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Today, as we embark upon such a big connectivity initiative, we are sowing the seeds for future generations to dream bigger.”
“Enhancing connectivity with all regions has been a key priority for India,” said Modi, speaking through a translator. “We believe that connectivity is a means to not only increase mutual trade between different countries but also increase mutual trust.”
“The India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor is historic. It will be the most direct connection till date that will make trade faster,” said Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President.
‘An India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor will make trade between India and Europe 40 per cent faster”, Von der Leyen added. She described the project as a “green and digital bridge across continents and civilisations.”