During the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the historic India-Middle East-Europe mega economic corridor.
The PM hailed it as “a testament to human endeavor and unity across continents,” while US President Joe Biden deemed it “a real big deal.”
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the historic economic corridor was collaboratively unveiled by leaders from India, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union.
This MoU stands as a direct counter to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI, which seeks to establish extensive trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa, has reached its 10th anniversary but is increasingly perceived by many as a tool for China to wield influence over developing nations, often resulting in debilitating debt burdens.
This announcement of the new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, which also involves Israel and Jordan, couldn’t have come at a less opportune time for Chinese President Xi Jinping. Data reveals that the value of new foreign contracted projects under the BRI has plateaued since its peak in 2019, coinciding with China’s domestic real estate debt crisis.
At the G20 summit, a notable shift in the global order was evident, particularly with the participation of Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, signaling Italy’s inclination to distance itself from the BRI. Italy had been the first G7 country to embrace Xi Jinping’s ambitious project in 2019.
In response to the announcement, President Biden remarked, “The world stands at a pivotal moment in history—a moment where the decisions we make today will shape our collective future for decades to come. Our investments are more crucial now than ever.”
A White House fact sheet outlines the objectives of the new corridor, which include the establishment of railway and sea connections between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. This ambitious initiative aims to link commercial hubs, support the development and export of clean energy, lay undersea cables, expand energy grids and telecommunication lines, promote clean energy technology, and enhance Internet access for communities, all in the pursuit of ensuring stability and security.
The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor is anticipated to attract other Asian countries, bolstering manufacturing, food security, and supply chains within its sphere of influence. According to the MoU, the corridor will consist of an eastern route connecting India to the Arabian Gulf and a northern route linking the Arabian Gulf to Europe. It will feature a railway network designed to provide dependable and cost-effective cross-border ship-to-rail transport, complementing existing maritime and road routes. This railway route, primarily traversing the Middle East, also includes plans for laying electricity cables and clean hydrogen pipelines.
Further details on transit routes, coordination bodies, and technical aspects will be deliberated by the signatories over the next sixty days as they formulate an action plan.
Indian government sources underscored the significance of consultative, transparent, and participatory connectivity initiatives while upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all involved countries. These sources stressed the adherence to principles of financial responsibility, economic viability to prevent the creation of unsustainable debt burdens for recipients, and adherence to ecological and environmental standards.