NEW DELHI – The European Union, the United States and other partners have launched a vast rail and shipping project linking Europe to the Middle East and India, President Joe Biden said at the G20 summit in New Delhi on Saturday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the project “historic,” adding that the rail connection alone would speed up trade between the EU and India by 40%.
The expansion of electricity grids and energy projects is also envisioned, along with new high-speed data cables. According to the White House, pipelines laid from Israel will help deliver clean hydrogen to Europe. A declaration of intent on what is being called the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor was adopted by the U.S., EU, India, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
“Across the corridor, we envision driving existing trade and manufacturing and strengthening food security and supply chains. Our approach aims to unlock new investments from partners, including the private sector, and spur the creation of quality jobs,” the White House said.
The aim is to “generate economic growth, incentives for new investments and advanced regional integration,” U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.
“We think that the project itself is bold and transformative, but the vision behind the project is equally bold and transformative,” he told journalists at the summit.
The news portal Axios had previously reported that this was one of Washington’s “key initiatives” aimed at containing China’s influence in the Middle East.
With its Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing supports infrastructure projects worldwide and has concluded numerous agreements with almost all Arab states.
The United States and European Union have long expressed concern about China strengthening its diplomatic and strategic foothold in regions across the world through the huge undertaking.
But a newfound awareness came after supply chains were tested first by the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and now by the increasing geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Western powers.