Minted in New Delhi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in September, this ambitious geo-economic and geo-strategic project is designed with two components – an eastern corridor connecting India to the Gulf region, and a northern corridor that will link the Gulf to Europe through a ship-rail transit network and road transport routes.
“Despite the ongoing geopolitical tensions, on which India’s position has been made clear at the United Nations, we should focus on the long-term significance of projects such as IMEC,” said Kant. The G20 sherpa emphasised that IMEC was too large a project to fail, as its eight signatories account for about half of the world’s economy and 40% of its population.
India, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union (EU) are signatories of the proposed corridor project, designed also to counterbalance China’s Belt and Road Initiative.Though Israel is not a signatory country yet, the proposed corridor is designed to pass through its Haifa port, making the country a clear beneficiary. However, after Israel’s massive counter-offensive, which has led to thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza, there is a strong possibility that Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE could want to put the IMEC project on the backburner.
Kant, though, believes the project will flourish. “With India’s balanced policy and close relations with participant countries, we have every reason to believe IMEC will be a resounding success,” he said.
Kant also said it was critical to understand that IMEC is a long-term initiative, along with being crucial to driving regional prosperity. “The development of islands, ports, inland waterways and multimodal hubs will lead to a reduction in the cost of logistics. For instance, in the case of India, IMEC has the potential to reduce trade time with the EU, our second-largest trading partner, by 40%,” he said.
India’s official push to green hydrogen – the hydrogen pipeline planned as part of IMEC – can significantly boost India’s export potential in the field. “It will also be critical in developing a regional clean hydrogen economy, as four of eight signatory countries (EU, Germany, France and Italy) can potentially import hydrogen, while others such as India, Saudi Arabia and UAE have strong hydrogen export potential,” Kant said.
Last month, US President Joe Biden said at a press conference that he is “convinced” that one of the reasons Hamas attacked is “because of the progress we were making towards regional integration for Israel, and regional integration overall,” indirectly referring to the recent initiatives such as IMEC, as well as an agreement that the US was trying to reach between Israel and Saudi Arabia for normalisation.