The Biden-led initiative consists of two separate corridors: the Eastern Corridor, which connects India and the Middle East, and the Northern Corridor, which connects the Middle East and Europe. These corridors include railways that complement existing cross-border maritime and road transport routes between India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Europe. US President Joe Biden has emphasized the importance of this initiative, stating, “This is a big deal. This is a really big deal.” The announcement of the initiative came during the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi, where Biden met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.
The inclusion of Saudi Arabia in this initiative highlights the strategic and economic opportunities that are arising as various countries navigate their alliances and spheres of influence amidst the rivalry between the United States and China. While the United States and other Western countries seek to “de-risk” their economies from China, rather than completely severing ties, protectionism and nationalism are hindering global trade and contributing to the fragmentation of the global economy. In this multipolar world, each country is pursuing its own interests, resulting in complex relationships that are not easily categorized.
China has also been making strategic moves in building alliances and influence through its Belt and Road Initiative. At the recent BRICS summit, China successfully invited six additional countries to join, despite concerns from other members such as Brazil, India, and South Africa. However, many of these countries are hesitant to be part of a China-led organization and prefer not to be constrained by existing international structures. Turkey, for example, made it clear that there can be no corridor without its involvement.
Amidst these dynamics, the Biden-led initiative aims to bridge the infrastructure gap in low- and middle-income countries, secure regional supply chains, and boost trade connectivity and economic activity. It aligns with China’s Belt and Road Initiative in its goals of enhancing global trade and infrastructure development. However, the approach taken by the Biden administration appears to be more focused on leveraging existing infrastructure and minimizing risks, potentially using already paid-for and built projects under Belt and Road aid.
The details of the Biden infrastructure plan for India, the Middle East, and Europe are yet to be revealed, but it is viewed as a strategic move to circumvent growing nationalist sentiments that are impeding further trade liberalization in the United States. However, domestic politics in the US may pose challenges to the implementation of such initiatives. The emphasis on connectivity and investment in this initiative is significant, highlighting the complex nature of global relationships and the pursuit of national interests in the current geopolitical landscape.