Biden, Prime Minister Modi, and G20 Partners Announce Ambitious Rail and Shipping Initiative Bridging India with the Middle East and Europe

Biden announces India-Middle East-Europe project
Biden announces India-Middle East-Europe project

President Joe Biden and his coalition announced a groundbreaking initiative during the G20 summit. This project aims to create a rail and shipping network connecting India to the Middle East and Europe, fostering economic growth and global collaboration.

Biden emphasized the significance of this endeavor, stating, “This is a big deal.” The corridor’s purpose is to enhance trade, facilitate energy resource transportation, and bolster digital connectivity. Key participants include India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, and the European Union, as outlined by Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.

Sullivan noted that this initiative aligns with Biden’s vision of expansive investments facilitated by effective American leadership and international partnerships. The improved infrastructure is expected to stimulate economic growth, unite Middle Eastern nations, and transform the region into an economic hub, mitigating past challenges and conflicts.

Leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen joined the announcement, emphasizing the importance of connectivity and mutual trust.

This rail and shipping corridor will bridge vast geographical regions, enhancing digital connectivity and promoting inter-country trade, including the transportation of energy resources like hydrogen. While the project’s cost and financing details remain undisclosed, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman mentioned a commitment of $20 billion.

Following the announcement, Biden greeted Crown Prince Mohammed with a handshake, a notable contrast to their previous meeting marked by a fist bump and criticism over human rights issues.

Von der Leyen described the project as a “green and digital bridge,” including electricity and data transmission cables. Additionally, she introduced a “Trans-African Corridor” linking the Angolan port of Lobito with landlocked regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, which Biden praised as a “game-changing regional investment.”

Amos Hochstein, Biden’s coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, outlined a tentative timeline for the project’s development over the next year. Working groups will create a comprehensive plan, identify areas needing investment, and establish connections between countries. The project aims to secure financing and commence construction within the next year.

Sullivan explained that this project began taking shape after Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in July 2022, emphasizing the need for regional economic integration. Conversations with regional partners began in January, with plans and assessments drafted by spring. Meetings between key officials solidified details leading to this announcement.

The project’s inclusion of Israel and Jordan, despite their lack of diplomatic relations, underscores the participants’ focus on practical outcomes. While not seen as a precursor to normalization, Israel’s involvement is deemed significant.

Biden also highlighted his commitment to addressing climate change and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine during the G20 summit. Notably, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was not invited, sparking discussions about his inclusion in future gatherings.

Global Leaders Announce India Connectivity Project
Global Leaders Announce India Connectivity Project

The summit communique addressed the war and other issues, emphasizing the principles of the UN Charter. Biden also discussed his request for additional funding for the World Bank with Congress, aimed at generating over $25 billion for economic development.

The White House seeks to strengthen the G20 as an international forum, despite the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a decision that disappointed Biden. Nonetheless, he expressed satisfaction with the summit’s progress.