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Global Affairs Desk

Tue Jun 18 2024

I2U2 Summit: What Does India Gain?

~ By Aarush J on 7/20/2022

I2U2 Summit: What Does India Gain?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined US President Joe Biden, Israeli PM Yair Lapid and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the first-ever summit of ‘I2U2’ on 14 July 2022. The four-nation grouping is known as ‘I2U2’, with “I” standing for India and Israel and “U” for the US and the UAE. It has come to be known as the "West Asia Quad" in the International Discourse and is aimed at promoting joint investments in six mutually identified areas of water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.

Prime Minister Modi hailed the grouping for setting a positive agenda and providing a practical model for cooperation in the face of global uncertainties. The Prime Minister noted that the grouping would contribute to energy security, food security, and economic growth — areas crucial for India amidst this changing geopolitical order.

The grouping is intended to aid in modernising the infrastructure, promoting low carbon development pathways for industries, promoting public health and developing green technologies. I2U2, therefore, is not a new formation but rather a formalisation of the already existing strategic cooperation between the countries, which is aimed at developing a framework that allows both regions to serve each other’s economic security more effectively. Also, it is widely acknowledged that the Abraham Accords, signed a year prior to the formation of this grouping, kickstarted the formation of the "West Asia Quad".

According to former Israeli National Security Advisor, the I2U2 Summit's first high-level meeting is a significant development in which India's partnership can prove to be a game-changer. The US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, noted that since India is a massive producer of high-tech and highly sought-after goods as well, the four countries can work together in several areas, including technology, trade, climate, and Covid-19. He also hinted that security cooperation might be possible in the future.

India enjoys warm and cordial relations with countries in the region as well as deep cultural and historical links and vibrant economic ties and can therefore be called a "natural partner" India has a decent presence in the region as it is a major buyer of energy from the region, and also a major supplier of many consumer goods and human resources to the West Asian region. For the UAE, apart from being an oil importer, India, owing to its massive IT industries, is a source of diversification and modernisation. On a similar note, Indo-Israeli relations are flourishing currently with defence relations being the underpinning of this growing strategic convergence.

New Delhi considers the Western Indian Ocean region as an area of geopolitical interest, due to the critical "Sea Lines of Communication" that pass through the area. and also the presence of key geographical chokepoints like the Suez Canal and Bab-el-Mandeb. Thus, a regional grouping like I2U2 brings with it an abundance of opportunities.

The grouping also lets India position itself as a reliable, strategic and developmental partner in the West Asian region. The current administration has succeeded in strengthening ties with major countries in the region like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, successfully forging ties in various sectors including energy, trade, investment, counterterrorism, and defence cooperation. The I2U2 can provide India with an excellent foothold for an even greater role in West Asia. It can lead to the emergence of a stronger and more multifaceted strategic partnership between India and 12 West Asian countries.

With a focus on the food security crisis and clean energy, the grouping has announced a 300 megawatt (MW) hybrid renewable energy project in Gujarat, supplemented by a battery energy storage system. The energy project will also include greater opportunities for the public and the private sector to cooperate. The joint statement notes that the project has the potential to make India a global hub for alternate supply chains in the renewable energy sector.

Another initiative regarding food security was made in India. A series of integrated food parks will be developed across India with $2 billion in UAE funding that will incorporate state-of-the-art climate-smart technologies to reduce food waste and spoilage and conserve fresh water. The recently announced initiative will bring a big technological boost, help maximise crop yields, tackle food insecurity, and enhance our capabilities even further. India already has a ‘Mega Food Park’ Scheme in place since 2008, and the recently announced initiative will help maximise crop yields, tackle food insecurity, and enhance our capabilities further.

I2U2 stands testimony to how "minilaterals" can reshape a region's geopolitical landscape, most notably West Asia, enabling India to establish both economic relations and long-term security cooperation through a comprehensive engagement strategy. In recent years, India's footprint in the region has increased in the region, making the I2U2 alliance a natural next step for India to further consolidate those ties.

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