On 14th July 2022, US President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted the first summit of the I2U2 platform, ushering in a new phase of cross-border economic interaction.
The I2U2 is aimed at strengthening relations between India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. The intriguing partnership comprising of nations with aligned interests will be engaged in furthering diplomatic and economic efforts in the face of receding globalisation.
The twin focus of the inaugural meeting was the global food security crisis in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and clean energy. The six arenas in which the participating nations have pledged to facilitate future cross-border cooperation and investment include water, energy, health, food security, transportation, and space. The framework for cooperation between the nations aims to capitalise on the collective strengths in “Capital, Expertise, and Markets”, through which the promotion of “energy security, food security and economic growth on a global scale” shall be facilitated.
Despite being in its nascent stages, the alliance has already borne the initiation of commendable projects and developments. A hybrid renewable energy project in Dwarka, Gujarat has been announced under the partnership, with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) having funded the initial feasibility study of US$ 330 million. The project will consist of 300 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity and will also include a battery energy storage system.
Another idea which featured prominently in the summit is the India-Middle East Food Corridor. The flagship initiative of the summit, however, is the US$ 2 billion investment of the UAE in developing a series of integrated food parks across India, envisaged to incorporate state-of-the-art climate-smart technologies with US and Israeli private-sector firms lending their expertise. This builds upon the existing trade relationship between the nations with US$ 59 billion in trade, which is expected to grow to over US $100 billion in five years due to the recently signed Free Trade Agreement.
The economic promise of the I2U2 lies in the complementing strengths of the nations that comprise it. The four economies possess innovative business sectors with differing strengths – Israel, with its renowned high-tech startup culture, in particular in the defence and cybersecurity arenas; India, with its massive IT sector, large human resource base and talent, and myriad investment opportunities; the UAE, with the diversification of its petroleum-based economy and consequent rise to prominence on the global FDI scenario; and the US as the leading global economy and home to the Silicon Valley.
The announcement of the partnership has come after it was announced that India’s largest trading partner is the US, indicating Prime Minister Modi and President Biden’s commitment to fostering a mutually beneficial trade relationship making it one of the most significant bilateral relationship of the 21st century in terms of scale and impact.
Still in its nascent stages, this alliance between these strategically consequential nations has been well-commenced, holding tangible potential for furthering of mutual interests, innovation, investment and trade along with stronger socio-economic ties.
This has been co-authored by Mehak Aggarwal and Pratik Khandelwal.