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France Seeks First Meeting for India-to-EU Infrastructure Link – BNN Bloomberg



(Bloomberg) — France is preparing a first meeting to discuss an infrastructure link that would connect India to Europe via the Middle East to counter a similar Chinese initiative.

President Emmanuel Macron named Gerard Mestrallet, the former chief executive officer of French energy utility Engie SA, his envoy to lay the ground work of the project. The concept, known as IMEC, aims to create a network of railroads, ships, gas pipelines and internet cables. 

“I’d like to convene the representatives of other IMEC member states in a gathering in the next two months,” Mestrallet told Bloomberg in an interview, adding that it was too early to say where or how the meeting would take place. 

The plan, initially announced on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi last year, could need a decade or more to materialize, according to Mestrallet. It took shape after Russia invaded Ukraine but suffered a major setback after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which has stoked tensions in the Middle East. That conflict has spilled over into the Red Sea shipping lanes, highlighting the need for alternative and secure trade routes.

Members of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor include the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union. It’s unclear yet who would represent other countries during the meeting, as France is the only participant that has named a sherpa for the talks.

Some French companies have already expressed interest in participating in talks around the project, Mestrallet said.

Shipping giant CMA-CGM, energy behemoth TotalEnergies SA, train builder Alstom SA, logistics company Getlink SE, state-owned Electricite de France SA, industrial gas specialist Air Liquide SA and cable-builder Nexans SA could be involved in building some of the energy and logistics projects, along with construction companies such as Vinci SA and Bouygues SA.

China has for years promoted its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious project launched more than a decade ago to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a network of railroads and trade deals, with the goal of cementing Beijing’s influence. 

The EU last year announced its own plan, named the Global Gateway, to develop infrastructure and connectivity in emerging countries.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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