The new rail and shipping network announced at the G20 summit will boost trade, cut transport costs and promote regional stability, the UAE ambassador to India has said.
Dr Abdulnasser Al Shaali said the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor would place the Emirates at the centre of a strong transcontinental trade route that would benefit all nations involved.
"It will include a railway that, upon completion, will provide a reliable and cost-effective cross-border ship-to-rail transit network to supplement existing maritime and road transport routes," he told The National.
He said the project would also enable goods and services to move between India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Europe.
The cross-border corridor was announced at the G20 summit in New Delhi last week by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed.
US President Joe Biden thanked the UAE President for his crucial role in securing the rail and ports deal.
Dr Al Shaali said the initiative aimed “to create an extensive economic corridor, comprising two pathways – the east corridor, connecting India to the Arabian Gulf, and the northern corridor, connecting the Arabian Gulf to Europe".
“This will significantly enhance connectivity and integration between these regions, fostering economic growth, trade and co-operation," he said.
By reducing shipping costs and increasing the efficiency of trade in goods and services, the deal has the potential to boost the economies of participating countries, Dr Al Shaali said.
“This corridor can serve as a crucial trade route, benefiting not only India, Europe and the Middle East, but also the global economy," he said.
UAE remains vital hub
Leaders in Asia and Europe have praised the project, which is expected to move goods across the Middle East quickly by rail, after goods arrive in the UAE on ships from India.
After shipments leave the Middle East, containers will be carried across Europe by trains.
“The IMEC initiative is expected to stimulate economic development through enhanced connectivity and economic integration between Asia, the Arabian Gulf and Europe,” Dr Al Shaali said.
He said the agreement would make good use of the UAE’s location and trade expertise, while strengthening international relations.
"The country can serve as a vital hub for the transit of goods and services," Dr Al Shaali said.
“The UAE's strategic geographical location and well-developed infrastructure, particularly its ports and transportation networks, make it a key player in enhancing connectivity within the IMEC."
He said the trade corridor reflected the willingness of nations to work together for mutual economic and environmental benefits.
"This collaboration fosters diplomatic relations and promotes regional stability,” he said.
Cop28 climate agenda
Dr Al Shaali said the UAE was honoured by India’s invitation to participate as a guest at the G20 talks.
UAE delegates held discussions centres on the health, pharmaceutical and food security sectors, as well as non-oil trade. They also met officials from the business world.
The UAE’s involvement in the summit also aided its preparations to host the Cop28 climate change summit this year, Dr Al Shaali said.
“It has helped to create opportunities to synchronise agendas and synergise discussions on climate action, energy transition and sustainable development funding,” he said.
“The UAE strives to lead climate action and environmental priorities within the G20, promoting initiatives like the Mangrove Alliance for Climate and the Global Alliance on Green Economy.”
Led by the UAE and Indonesia, the mangrove alliance aims to scale up and restore mangroves to help curb the effects of climate change.
Dr Al Shaali said the UAE hoped to work with Brazil, the G20 host next year, on environmental and climate action.
He said the Emirates was committed to accelerating global efforts to tackle the effects of climate change and helping vulnerable developing nations.
"The objective is to prepare for the first global evaluation of Paris Cop21 by enabling an inclusive, solutions-orientated Cop28, and building trust and restoring confidence between all parties in the negotiations," he said.