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US proposed IMEC trade route involving India to counter China in jeopardy as Middle East turmoil widens

The IMEC trade route is under threat even before the start of the planning phase due to the turmoil in the Middle East region. The Israel-Hamas war and the Red Sea blockade by the Houthis group have shifted attention from the proposed trade route.

US proposed IMEC trade route involving India to counter China in jeopardy as Middle East turmoil widens avv
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First Published Jan 25, 2024, 4:03 PM IST

A Proposed trade plan to counter China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is under threat even before it has started. The Middle East region has been gripped with uncertainty due to a number of regional conflicts taking place. The Israel-Hamas war and the Red Sea blockade have jeopardised the ambitious plans of the US administration.

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) came to light after a meeting between Narendra Modi, Joe Biden, and Mohammed Bin Salman at the sidelines of the G20 summit last year. The three leaders came together to announce the partnership for the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. The proposed trade route plan involves India, the Middle East, and Europe.

The US with this plan wanted to hit multiple nails with just one shot. Through the trade route, the partnership between two arch rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia would improve, and economic interdependence increase. China's BRI plan would be undermined if the US is successful in getting the plan going and making it a reality.

The proposed IMEC trade route created nervousness in China, Iran, Russia as well as Turkey. The initial plan is to create rail links and then other infrastructural corridors along the way. However, the IMEC trade route is now in jeopardy due to the disturbances in the Middle East region. Israel, a key member of the plan, is at war with the Hamas group in Gaza.

More than 25,000 deaths have already been recorded since the war broke out on October 7 last year. The spillover effect can be felt in the Red Sea as well as the Houthis group backed by Iran has taken forceful control of the global trade route. The Red Sea blockade has been the biggest blow to the global economy as shipments have been stopped from the route and diverted across the African continent increasing costs due to longer routes.

The attention towards the IMEC trade route has reduced significantly due to the ongoing crises in the Middle East region. However, all parties are interested in the project and the jeopardy in the project could be temporary as the US and other global bodies are trying to boil down the issues.

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