India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor will be a beacon of shared progress: PM Modi

09 Sep 2023


The proposed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor will be a beacon of cooperation, innovation, and shared progress that would help chart a journey of shared progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday. He was referring to the G 20 summit proposal.

“Charting a journey of shared aspirations and dreams, the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor promises to be a beacon of cooperation, innovation, and shared progress. As history unfolds, may this corridor be a testament to human endeavour and unity across continents.”

The proposed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) is a transnational rail and sea route that connects India with the Middle East countries of United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and extends that connectivity further to Europe and the United States.

This boost to infrastructure and connectivity across three continents would stimulate economic development and economic integration among countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States, according to the US.

For implementation of the project, participating countries, including India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, European Union, France, Germany, Italy and the US, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The IMEC will have an east corridor connecting India to the Arabian Gulf and a northern corridor connecting the Arabian Gulf to Europe through a rail-cum-shipping network.

This will provide reliable and cost-effective cross-border connectivity supplementing existing maritime and road transport routes for enhanced flow of goods and services among the countries – India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Europe.

The IMEC will generate economic growth by incentivising new investments across the two continents (Asia and Europe) and facilitate development and export of clean energy while supporting existing trade and manufacturing synergies. Besides, it would strengthen food security and supply chains. 

Development of the corridor will lead to the development of new energy grids and telecommunication lines through undersea cables.

The IMEC is expected to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, enhance economic unity, generate jobs, and lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to a White House release.

IMEC is seen by several countries as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which, however, is bilateral – between China and the partner country – and larger in scale. 

Under the New Silk Route project, announced in 2013, China has signed cooperation documents with more than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations, to create more than 3,000 projects, involving expenditure of nearly $1 trillion.

It may also be noted that some of the IMEC signatories, including Italy, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are also part of China’s BRI. Italy, however, has decided to pull out of the China initiative.

China’s BRI is an ongoing programme while the IMEC is still on paper. The BRI, however, has created more problems for China’s partners than achieving any success with the projects. 

In fact, BRI has created “debt traps” for developing countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, bringing them to pariah status. Both countries are unable to meet their debt obligations and are living on international support.

IMEC is yet to finalise projects and programmes and there are no big deals yet. The participating countries are expected to meet in two months to firm up details.


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