India-Pacific Regional Dialogue 2023: India-Middle East-Europe Corridor ‘promising’, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced “promising prospects” of the India-Middle East-Europe Connectivity Corridor (IMEC), while addressing the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue 2023 on November 15 in New Delhi, ANI reported.

The IMEC initiative aims to revolutionise transportation efficiency, slash logistic expenses, bolster economic cohesion, drive job creation, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions for all involved stakeholders.

Key Highlights of the IMEC Project

Sitharaman detailed that the IMEC inked during India’s G20 Presidency at the 18th G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 9-10, is a multi-modal economic corridor.

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Encompassing shipping, railways, roadways, electricity cables, high-speed data cables, and a hydrogen pipeline, it seeks to enhance connectivity on various fronts, the report said.

Primarily maritime, the corridor will link Indian ports such as the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority, Mundra, and Kandla, to West Asian ports such as Fujairah, Jebel Ali, Abu Dhabi in the UAE, and Saudi Arabian ports of Dammam, Ras Al Khair, and Ghuwaifat. Additionally, a rail segment will extend the corridor to Saudi Arabian cities and the port of Haifa in Israel.

Termed the “Northern Corridor,” the final maritime segment will connect the Haifa port to Greece’s Piraeus port, establishing a direct route to Europe, Sitharaman stated.

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Economic Integration and Geopolitical Challenges

IMEC’s significance lies in fostering a cost-effective cross-border transit network that supplements existing transport modes, fostering trade, and linking South Asia, West Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. However, Sitharaman cautioned about geopolitical challenges, citing concerns over the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Highlighting India’s maritime importance, Sitharaman stressed the nation’s commitment to bolstering the maritime sector, emphasising governmental support through fiscal policies and financial resources.

In international shipping, India has significantly climbed the ranks, from 44th in 2014 to 22nd in 2023, as per the report. Furthermore, Indian ports also boast a 0.9-day ‘turn-around time’, surpassing established maritime centres such as Singapore, the UAE, Germany, the USA, Australia, Russia, and South Africa, as per the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index report 2023, it added.

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Updated: 15 Nov 2023, 01:39 PM IST

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