A multinational rail and shipping project linking India with the Middle East and Europe has been announced on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi. This project is seen as a challenge to China’s economic ambitions in the region. The corridor would include India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, and the European Union, and aims to boost trade, deliver energy resources, and improve digital connectivity.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, stated that the network reflects Biden’s vision for “far-reaching investments” and effective American leadership. The infrastructure improvements are expected to boost economic growth, bring countries in the Middle East together, and establish the region as a hub for economic activity.
Biden aims to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative by positioning Washington as an alternative partner and investor for developing countries at the G20 grouping. The US leader emphasized the significance of the project, stating that it would unlock endless opportunities for clean energy, clean electricity, and improved connectivity within communities.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his belief in the importance of enhancing connectivity with all regions, stating that it increases mutual trade and trust. The deal has been hailed as a “game-changer” by officials, with expectations that it will significantly reduce trade time between India and Europe.
The absence of China during the announcement indicates that this project is intended as a rival to China’s Belt and Road initiative. It is clear that this is a counterweight plan aimed at challenging China’s infrastructure ambitions. The project is expected to benefit low- and middle-income countries in the region and enhance the Middle East’s role in global commerce.
The deal aims to connect Middle East countries by railway and port, facilitating the flow of energy and trade from the Gulf to Europe. The memorandum of understanding for the deal was set to be signed by the European Union, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and other G20 partners. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.
This initiative is seen as a wonderful alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to analyst Radha Kumar. However, she also noted that it would not necessarily undermine China’s global infrastructure project, as it provides connectivity to India. This move coincides with US efforts for a broader diplomatic deal in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia recognizing Israel.