Including Türkiye in the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) will have more benefits than risks, especially in the backdrop of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to an international relations expert.
The three main reasons are logistical and economic factors, in addition to ease in commerce, all of which could make the country a “natural” part of the project, Ali Oguz Dirioz, an associate professor at the TOBB University of Economics and Technology, told Anadolu.
“Running a corridor that does not benefit from the advantages that Türkiye will provide to world trade and international supply chains will not be easy, neither economically nor commercially,” he said.
He said Türkiye provides many advantages for global trade and international supply chains with its ports, airlines, railways, experience in logistics transportation and ability to produce a large number of products.
“It is quite interesting, Türkiye’s exclusion from the preliminary route,” he said, referring to the planned route of the corridor announced during the recent G-20 summit in India.
“Nevertheless, today we see that Türkiye is already on the natural route of various corridors, projects and routes,” he said, emphasizing the country’s strategic intercontinental position.
“I think that Türkiye will naturally take part in all these routes. The benefits of not including Türkiye in such routes, both in economic and political senses, are quite miniscule,” Dirioz said.
Need for positive diplomacy
He underlined that diplomacy will play a huge role in Türkiye’s possible inclusion in the IMEC.
“Türkiye should be constructive and positive rather than critical, and emphasize the possible advantages of its inclusion in the IMEC,” he said, adding that the country should also underline that it will be “naturally” included in the route.
Dirioz said the proposed corridor is still in its infancy and the planned setup is still very new and preliminary.
“Rather than pointing to the faulty structure of the project, Türkiye should constructively focus on the advantages of being on the route of this corridor,” he said.
“Türkiye is on the path of many trade routes that will pass through the region, with its supply chains in global trade, production, services, geostrategic location, industry and manpower, important logistics and infrastructure capabilities,” Dirioz added.
Clash of corridors
“Of course, corridors and trade routes may have advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Caspian Sea is a natural obstacle to the Middle Corridor prioritized by Türkiye,” he said, referring to the Trans-Caspian East-West-Middle Corridor Initiative that begins in Türkiye and passes through the Caucasus region via Georgia and Azerbaijan, crossing the Caspian Sea, traversing Central Asia and reaching China.
The Middle Corridor is considered to be one of the most important components of efforts to revive the ancient Silk Road.
“The Middle Corridor’s further development requires the development of shipping and pipelines on the Caspian Sea, rather than Russia and Iran – both subject to various sanctions,” Dirioz said.
The expert also said that the land route of China’s BRI is “almost under the monopoly of a single country” and passes through Russia and Iran, which are sanctioned by the West.
“The IMEC project is an initiative that will take a very long time to develop, and it is not yet clear how the section between Saudi Arabia and Israel will develop through Jordan. Political stability may be an important factor here too,” he said.
“All of these alternatives have costs and risks, but considering Türkiye’s critical contributions to international trade and supply chains in the past … the logical option is to include Türkiye.”
Example of EastMed
Dirioz pointed out that the EastMed pipeline project, which also sought to exclude Türkiye, has been a failure so far, especially after the US withdrew its support, saying it is not an “economically viable or environmentally friendly project.”
“I think Türkiye will naturally be involved. Several countries tried to realize the EastMed project without Türkiye, but the project has not come to fruition,” he said.
“EastMed has not yet been realized because projects that will pass through Türkiye are more advantageous.”
Dirioz further added that the inclusion of Türkiye in the project is “possible.”
“It may be possible to get involved by reaching an agreement with both Israel and Greece,” he said, adding that despite political challenges, Ankara’s economic ties with Israel and Greece “were always good.”
“Or through meetings with the IMEC countries and the US, because the US is one of the important supporters of this project, as it wants to prevent China’s monopoly,” he said, referring to the BRI.
“Moves of BRICS countries will also be decisive in this rivalry,” he said.
Türkiye’s longtime goal
“It has been Türkiye’s strategic goal for many years, since the 1990s, to have a key and central position in East-West trade and global supply chain,” Dirioz underlined.
He said it was likely the IMEC will end up passing through Türkiye “and become more prosperous in economic and geopolitical terms, especially with the increase in trade volume by strengthening ties with India and the Indo-Pacific region, which is expected to grow by 5% to 6% on average, according to projections.”
“Moreover, it is important for Türkiye’s development and prosperity to be a trade, logistics and energy center between Central Asian countries, Africa, Europe and the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.