On the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi, a new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor — which many see as an alternative to China’s nation-spanning infrastructure program, the Belt and Road Initiative — was jointly announced on Saturday, September 9, by the leaders of the U.S., India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union.
This ambitious plan to link Europe with the Middle East and India via rail and sea, was described by President Joe Biden as, “This is a big deal; this is a really big deal.”
Jake Sullivan, 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.
The planned corridor will link India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel and the EU through shipping ports and rail routes, in an effort to make trade quicker and more affordable, as well as to boost economic cooperation and digital connectivity across the region.
The project, called the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment, will speed up trade between India and Europe by 40% and help normalize relations between Israel and the Gulf states, which the Biden administration has been pushing for, says The Guardian.
The initiative includes the construction of railways, the laying of a hydrogen pipeline, fiber optic communications, electricity cables and other required infrastructure.
“We think that the project itself is bold and transformative, but the vision behind the project is equally bold and transformative, and we will see it replicated in other parts of the world as well,” said Jake Sullivan.
Sullivan added that discussions for the project began in July last year during Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia. Another meeting between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and India took place earlier this year to formalize an agreement. Israel, which does not have diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, was also brought on to the project along with Jordan.
The G-20 leaders did not discuss the funding for the project. A working group will lay out fuller plans over the next 60 days, including a timeline for building the infrastructure.