If you want to get Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s back up, there’s one surefire way to do it—ignore him. With much fanfare, India, Middle Eastern powers and the European Union’s biggest economies used last week’s G20 summit to announce the $17bn India-Middle East-Europe trade corridor. The project announcement was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm, but it now appears that to Erdogan, who was present at the summit held under India’s presidency, there is one huge problem—the route entirely shuts out Turkey.
“There is no corridor without Turkey,” fumed Erdogan to journalists who had accompanied him to the G20 get-together in New Delhi: “The most convenient line for traffic from east to west has to pass through Turkey,” he added.
Turkey has lately been pointing to its efforts to add momentum to a multi-billion-dollar initiative to form a rail-based trade corridor running from Iraqi ports on the Persian Gulf to a range of onward destinations via Turkish hubs, but if Erdogan is going to shoehorn his country into the India-Middle East-Europe effort, he’d better hurry up about it. The UAE has suggested that negotiations to pave the way for the investment be completed within 60 days, with foundations to be laid immediately thereafter.
The corridor, with shipping and railway links, involves contributions from India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, the EU, France, Italy, Germany and the US.
Shipping and rail lines will pass through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, then reach to Greece and Europe.
During the G20 summit, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the corridor was signed by the EU, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the US and other G20 partners.
The project aims to cut shipping times by 40% and enable cost and fuel savings.
It is thought the ambitious scheme could make annual returns of $4bn and create 100,000 jobs at a minimum.
The announcement of the corridor might also cause consternation in Iran and Russia. The Iranians and Russians are working on developing the North-South Corridor (also known as the International North-South Transport Corridor, or INSTC). It is designed to facilitate smooth multi-modal trade routes linking Russia, the South Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe to the Middle East and India via Iranian ports on the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman (Indian Ocean).