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U.S., Allies Sign Middle East Ports, Rail Deal

On the sidelines of the G20 summit last weekend, world leaders including President Biden unveiled an international ports and rail deal to connect the Middle East and South Asia, according to Reuters (subscription).

What’s going on: The pact, which was signed by the U.S., European Union, India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other G20 members, “aims to link Middle East countries by railway and connect them to India by port, helping the flow of energy and trade from the Gulf to Europe, U.S. officials have said, by cutting shipping times, costs and fuel use.”

  • The planned India–Middle East–Europe Economic Corridor is intended to “benefit low- and middle-income countries” in the Middle East and give the region a bigger role in global commerce, a Biden administration official said, according to Reuters.

The context: The agreement comes as President Biden ramps up efforts to portray Washington as an alternative infrastructure-funding source for developing nations that have relied historically on China.

What to expect: “IMEC is envisioned to consist of two separate corridors with an east corridor connecting India to the Arabian Gulf, and a northern corridor connecting the Arabian Gulf with Europe[.] … Along the railway route, participants intend to lay cable for power and data lines, as well as pipeline for hydrogen derived from renewable energy for use in power generation.”

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