The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC): A Game-Changer for India – OpEd

India’s G-20 summit, held in New Delhi, has been a truly historic and successful summit among all previous G-20 summits. One of the concrete plans out of this G-20 summit is the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), which would be the biggest economic corridor that connects two continents, i.e., Asia and Europe.

The governments of India, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, and Italy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC). The IMEC is being conceptualized as a comprehensive transportation network comprising railways and maritime routes, with the aim of fostering economic development by promoting connectivity between Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and Europe.

“Through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), we can contribute towards reducing the infrastructure gaps in the Global South countries,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. The President of the U.S.A. writes about this announcement on the X platform: “I’m proud to announce that the U.S., India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, Italy and EU finalized a historic agreement for a new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. This project is about more than just laying tracks. This is a game-changing regional investment.”

All the above-mentioned countries agreed on a corridor that starts in India and connects with a shipping line to the UAE; after that, a railway line will build up from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, to Israel and again connect to Haifa port in Israel by shipping lane to Piraeus port in Greece; and finally, it connects to all European countries by extra freight trains. Through this economic corridor, India will trade easily with Europe in the future.

This corridor might work more smoothly than the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road routes for moving freight between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. This NCTS seems a bit difficult to run smoothly due to the Russia-Ukraine war for trade with Europe, since Russia-Europe trade is completely disrupted. Therefore, India will now have to work on the IMEC plan supported by America, in which there is no need to include Russia, and Iran has also been kept out of it.

The White House is also promoting the plan for this corridor and has prepared a proper blueprint for it. It has been clearly explained that both continents will benefit and will bridge ports across two continents. Additionally, it will make it easier to trade and export clean energy, and there is also a plan under ‘One Sun, One Earth, One Grid’ to expand access to reliable clean electricity. Then it has also been mentioned in the IMEC document that it will be easier to lay cables that will connect communities that secure stable internet. then it will also unlock sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

One of the interesting things about this project is that the White House released a document on IMEC entitled “Memorandum of Understanding on the Principles of an India-Middle East-European Economic Corridor“. And, at the end of this document, it has been clearly told to all the countries that “The Participants intend to meet within the next sixty days to develop and commit to an action plan with relevant timetables.”

One major question arises: why is the USA so interested in this project? Why is Joe Biden playing a lead role in starting this project within 60 days? While IMEC is a project connecting Asia and Europe, the USA believes that this project will properly neutralize China’s Belt and Road Initiative (which is already directionless, and many countries are fed up with it and trapped in the debt trap). As soon as this project is built, many small nearby countries will want to participate in this IMEC. And this will also cause a slight shock to Iran, because after the construction of this project, Iran’s importance will be less for India.

From the American point of view, reducing India’s importance for Iran and Russia and reducing China’s influence in the region are all major geo-political goals for the USA. So, in the coming few months, some agreements will be signed in all the participating countries regarding this IMEC project. The White House also clearly stated in the document related to IMEC, “In support of this initiative, Participants commit to work collectively and expeditiously to arrange and implement all elements of these new transit routes, and to establish coordinating entities to address the full range of technical, design, financing, legal and relevant regulatory standards.”

In the future, there will be some meetings of ministers from participating countries in India. Ministers from India will go to other participating countries and hold meetings related to this IMEC project.