Red Sea events exposed ‘fragility of existing connectivity’: Jaishankar | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Red Sea events exposed ‘fragility of existing connectivity’: Jaishankar

Feb 20, 2024 07:49 PM IST

Events in Red Sea & Gulf of Aden post Israel-Hamas conflict show need for multiple resilient trade corridors, says Indian minister Jaishankar at business conclave.

New Delhi: Events in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden following the Israel-Hamas conflict have exposed the “fragility of existing connectivity” arrangements and the world needs multiple trade corridors with in-built resilience, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar. (File photo)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar. (File photo)

Jaishankar, who was speaking at the inaugural session of an India-Europe business conclave, took a veiled swipe at China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by saying the world needs new models of connectivity that are transparent, based on viable projects and without “hidden agendas”.

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The Indian minister’s remarks came against the backdrop of the Indian Navy deploying several frontline warships and aerial assets to monitor and assist merchant shipping following a string of attacks blamed on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels of Yemen. The rebels have said the attacks were mounted in solidarity with Palestinians following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

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Referring to the launch of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) on the margins of the G20 Summit last September, Jaishankar said the partners in the project “were not adequately cognisant of the fragility of existing connectivity”.

The events in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and even the 2021 obstruction of the Suez Canal due to a mishap, have highlighted the need to create “multiple...supporting corridors of connectivity of different forms, with their own in- built resilience”, he said.

In an apparent reference to China’s BRI, which has consistently been opposed by India as part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Jaishankar emphasised the need for India and Europe to offer alternative models of connectivity.

“On connectivity, we would particularly value working with Europe, because it is important today that connectivity is collaborative, transparent, based on viable projects [and] doesn’t have hidden agendas. By doing that, we will set before the world a model of how international cooperation on connectivity should work and we hope that other countries will draw appropriate lessons from that model,” he said.

He held up the possibility of European countries getting involved in other connectivity projects that India is part of, such as the polar route for shipping and a corridor passing through Iran. He also pointed to work done by India to enhance road, waterway and electrical grid connectivity with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

In this context, he suggested the possibility of linking IMEC with the Trilateral Highway project – involving India, Myanmar and Thailand – to connect Europe to the Pacific.

Speaking on the theme of “India and Europe: Partners in growth and sustainability” at the conclave organised by the external affairs ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Jaishankar referred to the importance of production, connectivity, technology, demographics, values and a framework for doing business.

Trust and transparency are critical in the technology sector, and India’s push in smart cities, decarbonisation, emerging technologies and space have opened up new opportunities for European companies. However, Jaishankar said the two sides cannot be impervious to technology’s security implications, such as the reliability of renewable energies and concerns related to semiconductors.

India has inked mobility agreements with several European states to help businesses access skills and talents, and these pacts also promote legal movement. The rapid expansion of universities and specialised institutions will help India to meet the world’s need for human resources, Jaishankar said.

He also pointed to the need for a new framework for business as the post-Covid-19 world is looking at a new form of globalistaion “where we are more secure in our own countries and regions, where there is greater resilience and reliability in supply chains, where there is greater trust and transparency in the digital world”.

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