Turkey is engaging in “intensive negotiations” with regional partners to establish an alternative trade corridor following controversy over the proposed India-Middle East trade corridor plan. The original corridor, backed by the US and EU to counter China’s influence, would bypass Turkey, prompting President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an to assert that “there can be no corridor without Turkey.
” Turkey is now advocating for an alternative initiative called the Iraq Development Road, and discussions are underway with Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE. The $17 billion project would connect the Grand Faw port in southern Iraq to Turkey via high-speed rail and road networks. However, analysts raise concerns about the project’s feasibility due to financing, security, and stability issues, while the G20 corridor itself may take decades to materialize.
Turkey has a history of positioning itself as a bridge between east and west, and the Iraq Development Road aligns with its desire to maintain this role. While Turkey seeks support from Gulf states for the project, convincing them of the investment’s returns may be challenging. Iraq’s internal issues, including corruption, infrastructure problems, and political instability, further complicate the initiative. Turkey’s foreign policy balances relationships with both the West and countries like Russia and China, though tensions sometimes arise, such as recent US sanctions on Turkish companies allegedly aiding Russia in Ukraine. Despite the alternative proposal, Turkey may still aim to join the India-Middle East initiative, leveraging its strategic location and regional influence in trade negotiations.
President Erdo?an may discuss these matters with US President Joe Biden during the upcoming UN General Assembly, emphasizing Turkey’s geopolitical significance for trade and diplomacy in the region. While Turkey has shown support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, its role in the initiative remains limited, accounting for only a small fraction of Beijing’s total investments.
Turkey’s pursuit of an alternative trade corridor underscores the complexities of global trade dynamics and the competition for influence among major powers and regional players in today’s interconnected world.