From Silk Road to Cotton Road: How Meloni bids farewell to China The project seems successful on paper. And all heroes can benefit from this, especially Italy. However, there are many questions waiting to be answered in practical and economic terms.

A synergy between the West and the Global South emerged from the G20 in New Delhi; Narendra Modi’s India acts as a bridge between two worlds. Because among the achievements that the Indian leader can claim is the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (Imec), that is, the agreement that presents itself as an alternative to the Chinese New Silk Road project thanks to the construction of a ship. Train ship connection between India, Gulf countries, Israel, the Mediterranean and Europe. It is such an accurate alternative that it was renamed “Via del Cotone” by the media. The project, strongly supported by the United States, sees India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel and the European Union, especially France, Germany and Italy, as heroes.

Its goal is simple: IMEC will help promote trade, secure energy supplies and improve digital connectivity, while helping to normalize relations between Israel and the Gulf states. But above all, it acts on an alternative global axis to China’s strategic goals. Italy will also play a central role in the project due to its geostrategic location in the Mediterranean.

Let’s go in order. Goods can travel on the double corridor, which is divided into two routes – rail and sea, which will connect India to the Gulf countries and the second to Europe. Let’s see in detail how it should work. The products will leave Mumbai, India, by sea and reach the Emirates. From here they would continue by rail to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region. Goods can enter Israel via Jordan from Saudi railways and arrive at the port of Haifa, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. From there, the products can be reloaded onto ships and sent to the Greek port of Piraeus (owned by Chinese state company Cosco) and then distributed throughout Europe.

Project durations and costs

However, conditions are required. The details of the plan, in which the USA also participates, have not yet been determined, but it is clear that the aim is to trigger a series of infrastructure investments that will counter Beijing. At a time when China and India are at odds (due to Beijing’s intolerance of India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region, military conflicts in the border region, and China’s claims over the entire Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, to name just a few), the project India It aims to increase trade between the peninsula and Europe by 40 percent. Moreover, the infrastructure plan could help normalize relations between Israel and the Gulf states, so the United States is directly interested. The initiative is in line with the Global Gateway launched by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her 2021 State of the Union Address, with the aim of mobilizing up to €300 billion in financing for infrastructure projects in developing countries by 2027.

After months of secret negotiations, the United States, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, France, Italy and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding, which you can read here; The project is summarized. Announced during the signing event Partnership for global infrastructure and investment and India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor Aiming to improve the work carried out by Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership (PGII) was created by the G7 to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region.

What will happen now? The next step will be for signatory countries to form working groups to develop a list of projects for energy and railways within 60 days, as well as seek private financing. A resource of $600 billion is expected to be put on the table to support low- and middle-income countries in building sustainable infrastructure in accordance with investment transparency principles.

But there are many doubts

The route to be followed by Imec will provide a seven-day advantage in transporting goods compared to the ship route from India to Suez. But the difficulties are many. Jacopo Scita, PhD, policy researcher, believes Stock Exchange and Bazaar Foundation London’s one He explained that the Gulf countries, which have internal stability and an institutional tendency towards infrastructure investments, will see the formation of these corridors over a very long period of time.

Expressing doubts about the economic viability of the project, the researcher nevertheless underlines the political advantage that all actors involved in the project can gain. “Also in response to China, the construction of a multi-regional and inter-modal connectivity axis certainly has a geopolitical value – Scita notes – but some questions remain open regarding the implementation of the project from a practical and economic point of view.” The emphasis and satisfaction of the countries that signed the memorandum brought to the fore concerns about China’s reactions to the Gulf countries and Israel, with which the Asian giant has strengthened diplomatic and economic ties in recent years.

“I don’t think Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates face the dilemma of choosing between cutting ties with the Chinese giant or leaving the Belt and Road Initiative, as Scita claims.” According to the scientist, the political and geopolitical message is very clear and is directed towards China, which has expanded its economic and geopolitical relations in the last decade thanks to the New Silk Road project. Therefore, the countries participating in Imec want to propose a new infrastructure model alternative to China, which has weaknesses in terms of efficiency and reliability (think of the many countries that have fallen into the so-called debt trap).

What are the advantages of Italy?

Therefore, on paper, the project looks successful. And all heroes can benefit from this, especially Italy. Rome is actually an active part of the plan and plays a very important role thanks to its geostrategic location that makes it the center of Mediterranean dynamics.

First of all, it may be Italian companies, and therefore workers, who gain an excellent economic return by entering the project: many companies, such as Fincantieri or Trenitalia, have the right skills to play a key role in the development of public transport infrastructure. countries.

So how will China evaluate Italy’s actions towards India? It is interesting that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni decided to participate in the project proposed as an alternative to the Chinese project, at the same time that Italy announced its farewell to the New Silk Road. “Scita claims that although the Meloni government’s intention to confirm Italy’s Atlanticist position was clear, the timing was not coincidental”. An Atlanticism that brings with it many challenges, such as managing relations with China following the launch of the New Silk Road. But Rome still emerges strengthened from the G20 in India, taking a leading role in a strategic initiative that distances itself from Beijing but brings it closer to Washington and New Delhi. And China’s countermeasures don’t matter much. At least for now.

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Source: Today IT