Turkey in talks for alternative to India-Middle East trade corridor plan: Report

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Turkey is in talks for an alternative to the India-Middle East trade corridor plan to strengthen its role as a trade route, according to a report by Financial Times. Turkey has pushed against the proposed India-Middle East-Europe corridor that was agreed upon this month during the G20 Summit held in New Delhi. 

The India-Middle East corridor would transport goods from the subcontinent through the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel to European markets. The US and the European Union have also hailed the “strategic” route during the G20 Summit as they attempt to repel China’s growing influence. However, the major trade routes have bypassed Turkey. Following this, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after the G20 that, “there can be no corridor without Turkey….the most appropriate route for trade from east to west must pass through Turkey”.

Notably, Turkey has generally been supportive of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but the role has been limited. China made about $4 billion in investment in Turkey through Belt and Road, accounting for just 1.3% of the total, FT reported citing a study by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Now Ankara has touted an alternative as per the FT report. The alternative that Turkey is seeking is called the Iraq Development Road initiative. Turkey is in “intensive negotiation” with Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE for the project. This project would take goods from the Grand Faw port in Iraq into Turkey. Further, the proposed $17 billion route would rely on 1,200 km of high-speed rail and parallel road network. The report stated that the project’s first phase may be completed in 2028.

During the G20 Summit, India unveiled a major trade and transport route linking Europe, the Middle East, and India as part of a broad alliance. India and Saudi Arabia, along with the United States, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, and others launched the initiative to link railways, ports, electricity and data networks, and hydrogen pipelines.

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Updated: 18 Sep 2023, 08:43 AM IST