New Delhi: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Thursday announced that it will invest $2 billion in India to develop food parks across the country under the I2U2 (India-Israel-UAE-USA) grouping.
The announcement came as the leaders of the four countries held the first I2U2 Summit. Another takeaway of the summit was a commitment to set up a 300-MW hybrid renewable energy project in Gujarat.
The I2U2 grouping was first conceptualised during a meeting of the four foreign ministers on 18 October 2021.
Also called the ‘West Asian Quad’, the grouping was formed with an aim to mobilise private sector capital and expertise to help modernise infrastructure, develop low-carbon pathways for industries, improve public health, and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies.
“This is a meeting of strategic partners in the true sense. We are all good friends too, and we all have common perspectives and common interests as well. I2U2 has set a positive agenda right from today’s first summit,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while virtually addressing the summit Thursday.
“We have identified joint projects in many areas, and have also prepared a roadmap to move forward in them.”
Modi also said that the I2U2, by mobilising “capital, expertise and markets”, can achieve the targets it has set for itself faster.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said during a special briefing for the media that the proposed food parks or food corridors are expected to come up in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh for now.
A joint statement said “India will provide appropriate land for the project and will facilitate farmers’ integration into the food parks”.
“The US and Israeli private sectors will be invited to lend their expertise and offer innovative solutions that contribute to the overall sustainability of the project,” it added.
Also read: India & UAE vow to ‘deepen’ strategic partnership on Modi’s first Gulf trip after Prophet row
What leaders of UAE, US, Israel said
Highlighting growing concerns over food security in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that “only partnership can overcome today’s conflicts and overlapping challenges, the most important of which are food and energy security, climate change, and healthcare”.
Joe Biden, who is currently on his maiden trip as US President to the Middle East, said: “The UAE’s investment to develop integrated agricultural parks across India with the support of the American and Israeli private sector experts has the potential to sustainably increase India’s food yields in the region threefold in just five years.
“India is a major, major food producer in the world. Think of the beneficial impacts this will have on India’s farmers and the people suffering from hunger and malnutrition in the region.”
Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid said, ever since the war in Ukraine began, countries around the world have been grappling with critical issues that have adversely impacted daily lives of people.
Lapid said a “food corridor” between India and the UAE will, to a large extent, address food security issues in the two countries.
“An initiative like the food corridor between India and the UAE, which was put together by this group, is a clear example of a creative solution to a problem we’re all facing. The fast transportation of food and preservation technologies, the ability to connect relative advantages together — this is the solution to the problem,” Lapid added.
India to play ‘critical role’
A day before the I2U2 summit took place, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that just as the US “can play a critical and central role in helping deepen Israel’s integration into the region, India has a role to play in that as well”.
“India also has very longstanding ties to and engagement in the Middle East, and relationships not just with the Gulf countries but relationships — a relationship over the years with Israel. And so just as the United States can play a critical and central role in helping deepen Israel’s integration into the region, India has a role to play in that as well,” Sullivan said en route to Tel Aviv.
He also said that India “plays a critical role” in the Indo-Pacific, adding that it is “one of the largest, most significant, most strategically consequential countries in the Indo-Pacific, and so it should play a central role in our strategy, including through the Quad”.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
Also read: Indians build the UAE. Delhi shouldn’t worry about pushback from Gulf nations