During the annual Group of 20 summit of leaders from the world’s top economies, President Joe Biden and the leaders of seven other countries announced plans to build a rail and shipping corridor linking India with the Middle East and Europe to stimulate economic development through enhanced connectivity and economic integration across two continents.
The White House said the intention is to “facilitate the development and export of clean energy; lay undersea cables and link energy grids and telecommunication lines to expand reliable access to electricity; enable innovation of advanced clean energy technology; and connect communities to secure and stable Internet.” The expectation is that the project will strengthen food security and supply chains, “unlock new investments from partners, including the private sector, and spur the creation of quality jobs.”
The project was endorsed by the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union and will include Israel. During the first phase, the areas that need investment and where physical infrastructure can be connected between countries will be determined.
“This is a big deal,” said President Biden. “This is a really big deal.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the cooperation project a “breakthrough” and “the greatest in our history” and said it would transform the region. “Our country, Israel,” will be a central junction in this economic corridor; our railways and our ports will open a new gateway from India through the Middle East to Europe and back.”
“It’s a day of good news for all citizens of Israel, good news that leads us to a new era of regional integration and cooperation,” he added.
The fact that Israel and Saudi Arabia are part of the project is viewed as another step toward normalization of relations between the two countries. However, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it was not a “precursor” to that objective. “The participants in this effort are focused on practical outcomes that deliver for their people,” Sullivan said. “And a corridor of this kind by dint of geography works best having Israel in as opposed to out and the countries participating prioritized that.”
One element missing from the White House announcement was how the project would be financed.
FACT SHEET: World Leaders Launch a Landmark India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, The White House, (September 9, 2023).
Aamer Madhani and Josh Boak, “Biden, Modi and G20 allies unveil rail and shipping project linking India to Middle East and Europe,” Washington Post, (September 9, 2023).
Lahav Harkov, “Expansive Mideast railway project expected to provide economic boon to Israel,” JewishInsider, (September 11, 2023).
“‘Greatest cooperation project in our history’: PM lauds new US-led transport corridor,” Times of Israel, (September 11, 2023).