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Modern-Day Spice Route linking Europe, Middle East and India Launched | New Business Age


September 10: Global leaders on Saturday unveiled ambitious plans to create a modern-day Spice Route linking Europe, the Middle East and India, to boost trade ties with potentially wide-ranging geopolitical implications.

According to Reuters, the pact announced on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi comes at a critical time as US President Joe Biden seeks to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative on global infrastructure by pitching Washington as an alternative partner and investor for developing countries at the G20 grouping

The plan encompasses a multinational rail and ports deal linking the Middle East and South Asia.

The corridor, which would include India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel and the European Union, would help boost trade, deliver energy resources and improve digital connectivity, reported Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that the United States, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates and others launched the initiative to link railways, ports, electricity and data networks and hydrogen pipelines on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi.

“Although heavily trade-focused, the scheme could have wide-ranging implications — including developing contacts between long-time foes Israel and Saudi Arabia. Signatories hope it can help integrate India’s vast market of 1.4 billion people with countries to the west, offer a counterbalance to lavish Chinese infrastructure spending, boost Middle Eastern economies and help normalise relations between Israel and Gulf Arab states.”

“This is a real big deal,” AFP quoted US President Joe Biden as saying at the launch event, calling the plan “historic”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reportedly said the so-called India–Middle East–Europe economic corridor was “much more than ‘just’ a railway or a cable”.

“It is a green and digital bridge across continents and civilisations,” she said.

One proposed project would link railway and port facilities across the Middle East — including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel — potentially speeding trade between India and Europe by up to 40 percent.

According to AFP, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, South Asia practice head at the Eurasia Group, said a shipping container that today travels from Mumbai, through the Suez Canal to Europe could in the future go by rail from Dubai to Haifa in Israel and on to Europe, saving both money and time.

At present, the Suez Canal is a major bottleneck to world trade, handling roughly 10 percent of global maritime trade but often beset by disruptions.


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