According to experts, the recently announced Saudi Arabia-backed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor will likely be a “game changer” for New Delhi by providing it with never-before-seen access to global markets.
Last week, Saudi Arabia, the US, the EU, India, the UAE, France, Germany, and Italy all signed a deal to set up the IMEC. At the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed this.
The new 4,800-kilometre trade route is meant to help the economy grow and bring more countries together. It is made up of two different routes: an east corridor that goes from India to the Arabian Gulf and a north corridor that goes from the Gulf states to Europe.
The train and sea routes will make it possible to move goods and services, connect to electricity and the internet, and send clean hydrogen out of the country through pipes.
“It really changes the game. Manish Mohan, senior director for foreign affairs at the Confederation of Indian Industry, told Arab News that the deal was “historic.” “The corridor gives India access to North Africa and North America as well as other trade routes to the Middle East and Europe’s thriving markets.”
It is believed that the ship-to-rail transit system will cut shipping costs and speed up transit times.
“This will make it easier for things and services to move from one country to another. Mohan said, “It’s a big plan, and this will be a big project.” “It’s bringing the whole area together, so we’re basically talking about a global value chain. It will help not only one country but also the whole area.”
Subhrakant Panda, head of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, says that the IMEC “promises to revolutionise” trade and pave the way for clean energy and digital innovation.
He stated, “It will be of great assistance in growing the economy, creating jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” It’s more than just a building. It is a plan for a future that is better linked, more sustainable, and has a strong economy. It will also be a great chance for companies in India and Saudi Arabia to work together and make money.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and India were already good, but they got even better this year when India led the G20. The new trade route is likely to strengthen them even more, along with India’s ties to the UAE, which is another ally in the Gulf and its top trading partner.
“The IMEC shows that India and the Middle East are getting closer together, as the Middle East and South Asia are coming together in West Asia. India already does a lot of business with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and this route could help them do even more business together. It could also give India new chances for trade, energy, and building up its infrastructure, said Mohammed Soliman, head of strategic technologies at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C.
“For Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it means that their ties will be more diverse than just making energy. Overall, the IMEC shows that India and the Middle East are getting closer together economically and strategically,” he said.
Since the eight countries that signed on to the IMEC make up about half of the world’s economy, the international project is also likely to affect geopolitics.
“From an economic point of view, it wants to improve trade and infrastructure links across the Eurasian rim,” Soliman told Arab News.
Some commentators have compared the IMEC to China’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to rebuild the ancient Silk Road and connect it to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Russia, and Europe. But Soliman doesn’t think that the IMEC is a clear threat to the Chinese plan.
The main difference, he said, is that member countries are given more freedom and are not forced to pick between China and the United States. IMEC members Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are near Chinese neighbours. The three countries are also part of BRICS Plus with India. So, the IMEC should be seen as a separate project. Its goal is to provide an alternative model for connectivity with a focus on autonomy and different kinds of relationships.