The Global Eye in dialogue with Amb Rtn. Anil Trigunayat. He is, among other: Former Ambassador of India to Jordan, Libya and Malta; Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation; Secretary, Association of Indian Diplomats (Former Ambassadors); Adviser, Asia Africa Chamber of Commerce / BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Adviser, India-Japan Foundation
Can you explain to our readers the importance of the IMEEC Corridor?
As you are aware that the IMEEC was announced an MoU signed between India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, EU and USA apart from France, Germany and Italy to build this new connectivity corridor to connect India and South Asia through Middle East to Europe as another alternative and possibly a short, efficient and transparent multi-modal transport corridor for trade, transit , energy , data and digital transmission through shipping , railways and undersea cables .The proposed corridor is expected to reduce the trade and transit cost by about 40%.
It also has a significant strategic dimension as well . Each of the member country looks at it in a different yet complementary context. For India it had strong reservations with regard to Chinese Belt and Road Initiative since it impinged on her sovereignty and territorial integrity apart from lacking in transparency . hence India has been associated with the International North south Transport Corridor with Russia, Iran and Central Asia and is also working on other regional corridors in Asia and South East Asia. The IMEEC will provide another major alternative connecting to Europe and Middle east which are great markets and partners for India
Why do IMEEC member countries, and those that could join, have an interest in this initiative ?
Because once completed it could provide more reliable , cheaper and efficient services to the business community . Also it serves their strategic ends as well. It could also be seen in the context of Sino-US competition and proposed ‘BBB’ initiative by US President Biden at G7 Summit . Italian PM Meloni recently wanted to opted out of the Chinese BRI and several other countries have doubts about the Chinese designs hence looking for a viable strategic alternative which the IMEEC will provide apart from effectively connecting the producers and markets .USA also wishes to expand and hopes that this could become a conduit for enhanced cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia in particular and Abraham Accords in general.
As for the Middle east and GCC countries, even as they will have equanimous approaches to China and others, a newer connectivity also gives them a greater hedging advantage apart from economic connectivity in which they would be playing a very major and critical role.
How does the IMEEC Corridor fit into the reality of the multipolar world ? And what does it mean, in particular, for India’s international status ?
Multipolarity inherently means ability to exercise choices in the foreign policy domain and that is what precisely the IMEEC initiative offers to all. Strategic autonomy has become a preferred option along with regional modus vivendi especially in the Middle East.
India is the 5th largest economy and hoping to become the 3rd largest by 2030 which inter alia means a gigantic market and business opportunity given the fact that it is also the largest democracy with demographic dividend .This is what it is trying to leverage through alternate possibilities where it has a stronger say. It will also help in ensuring reliable and more efficient energy security and trading routes given the uncertainty around the Hormuz. It will help India become a credible player in the Global and regional value and supply chains which have been under stress in recent years. At the successful and consensus driven G20 that India chaired has conveyed that India is a leading power which wishes to a rule shaper and rule maker and play its part constructively from geo politics to geo economics. Of course , even though India may not project this as a challenge to BRI, it surely will be a strategic alternative.