India- Middle East- Europe Economic Corridor

Context: Days after the launch of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday described Saudi Arabia as “one of the most important strategic partners of India”.

The exchange between the two sides took place during the state visit of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia when they agreed to set up a joint task force to fast-track the West Coast refinery project.

  • Further PM Modi and Prince Bin Salman also co-chaired the first meeting of the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council (SPC)
  • The discussion focused on defence, energy, security, education, technology, transportation, healthcare, tourism and culture, space, and semiconductors as areas of possible cooperation.
  • The new thing that has come up is that the two sides agreed to set up a joint task force to help in identifying and channelising the $100 billion investment which was actually promised by the Saudi side. Earlier Crown Prince Bin Salman had visited India in February 2019 when Saudi Arabia had pledged to invest $100 billion and the investment into the energy project.
  • Delhi and Riyadh would upgrade energy ties to “comprehensive energy partnership”

About India-Middle East- Europe Corridor:

  • The project includes India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, France, Italy, Germany and the US.
  • It will be a major medium of economic integration between India, West Asia and Europe and  will give a new direction to connectivity and sustainable development of entire world.
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What is the project?

  • The rail and shipping corridor is part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII) — a collaborative effort by G7 nations to fund infrastructure projects in developing nations. PGII is considered to be the bloc’s counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The corridor will include a rail link as well as an electricity cable, a hydrogen pipeline and a high-speed data cable
  • The project is thus duped as “a green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations.”

Why is the project being proposed?

  • First, it would increase prosperity among the countries involved through an increased flow of energy and digital communications. 
  • Second, the project would help deal with the lack of infrastructure needed for growth in lower- and middle-income nations. 
  • Third, it could help “turn the temperature down” on “turbulence and insecurity” coming out of the Middle East
  • Lastly, the project could be seen as Biden’s attempt to further strengthen the G20 group to counter the dominance of China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Source: The Hindu

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