Huge shipping and rail project to link India to Europe agreed at G20 summit
(Photo: Xinhua)

A huge infrastructure project aims to better connect the US, Europe, the Middle East and India. US President Joe Biden said at the G20 summit in New Delhi that the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union had agreed a memorandum of understanding for a joint rail and shipping project according to the Tageschau.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the agreement as “historic”. She said it would be the most direct link yet between India, the Persian Gulf and Europe. The rail link between India and Europe will speed up trade by 40 per cent.

US President Joe Biden also spoke of a “historic economic corridor”. The project is designed to promote growth in several critical regions of the world, said Biden adviser Jake Sullivan. It also aims to improve integration across the Middle East. The plan is for “high quality, sustainable infrastructure” that will close a global gap and bring greater prosperity and connectivity to key regions of the world. According to the White House, the project represents a major opportunity for the Middle East to play a key role in global trade, digital communications and energy.

Part of the project includes the expansion of power grids, energy projects and high-speed data cables. Power cables and a pipeline for clean hydrogen will also help boost trade in clean energy between Asia, the Middle East and Europe. According to the US, pipelines from Israel will supply clean hydrogen to Europe. Sullivan said it was “significant that Israel is part of this vision”. But he stressed that this was not a precursor to normalising relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The project is to be funded in part by the EU’s Global Gateway initiative. This aims to invest up to €300 billion in infrastructure in emerging and developing countries over the next few years.

According to reports of Tageschau, the initiative competes with China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative, on which China has been working in many countries for years. With the New Silk Road initiative,  China is supporting infrastructure projects around the world and aims to create new trade routes to Europe, Africa and Latin America and to develop in Asia. Almost all the Arab states have signed agreements with China.