Turkey's New Trade Route Ambitions: The Iraq Development Road



Turkey's bid for new trade corridor: Iraq Development Road Initiative

In recent times, Turkey has found itself at the center of discussions on trade routes connecting the Indian subcontinent to European markets. The India-Middle East Trade Corridor, an ambitious project, attracted significant attention during the G20 summit in New Delhi. However, Turkey has expressed reservations about the corridor, saying it should play a key role in any east-to-west trade route. In this article, we discuss Turkey's stance in depth and explore the search for an alternative: the Iraq Development Road Initiative.

India-Middle East Corridor: A Strategic Route

The India-Middle East Trade Corridor, as envisioned during the G20 Summit, will act as an important medium to transport goods from the Indian subcontinent to European markets. This proposed route will pass through the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel. In particular, both the United States and the European Union have described the corridor as strategically important, primarily as a counterweight to China's growing influence in global trade.

However, Turkey has expressed its concerns regarding the exclusion of its important geographical location from this corridor. After the G20 summit, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed, "There can be no corridor without Turkey... The most suitable route for trade from East to West must pass through Turkey." The sentiment highlights Turkey's determination to emphasize its importance as a trade route nexus.

China's Belt and Road Initiative and Türkiye

It is worth noting that Turkey has generally been supportive of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to create a trade and infrastructure network linking Asia, Europe and Africa. Despite this support, Turkey's role in the BRI has been relatively limited. According to a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, China's investments in Turkey through the BRI amount to about $4 billion, which is only 1.3% of total BRI investments.

Iraq Development Road Initiative: Türkiye's alternative

In light of Turkey's objections regarding the India-Middle East Trade Corridor, an interesting alternative has emerged, as reported by the Financial Times. Turkey is actively engaged in negotiations with Iraq, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for a project called the Iraq Development Road Initiative.

The goal of this ambitious effort is to establish a trade route that will deliver goods from the port of Grand Fou in Iraq to Turkey. The proposed route is estimated to cost around $17 billion and will rely on a combination of a high-speed rail network and a parallel road system spanning approximately 1,200 kilometres. The report suggests that the first phase of the project could be completed as early as 2028.

Importance of Iraq Development Road Initiative

The Iraq Development Road Initiative holds immense potential for Turkey and the wider region for several reasons:

Enhancing Turkey's trade role: If successfully implemented, this project will firmly position Turkey as an important trade route between the Indian subcontinent and European markets. This will not only boost Turkey's economic prospects but will also strengthen its influence in global trade.

Diversification of trade partners: By collaborating with Iraq, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on this initiative, Turkey can diversify its trade partnerships beyond traditional routes. This will provide economic stability and reduce dependence on any one trade corridor.

Reducing transportation costs: The combination of high-speed rail networks and road systems provides the ability for cost-effective and efficient transportation of goods. This may appeal to businesses that want to optimize their supply chains.

India's extensive trade and transport routes

During the G20 summit, India unveiled an expansive trade and transport route that seeks to connect Europe, the Middle East and India. The initiative, supported by Saudi Arabia, the United States, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates and others, aims to create an integrated network encompassing railways, ports, power and data networks and hydrogen pipelines.

In conclusion, Turkey's pursuit of an alternative trade corridor, the Iraq Development Road Initiative, reflects its determination to secure a dominant role in East-to-West trade routes. While the India-Middle East Trade Corridor remains an important project, Turkey's quest to get a seat at the table in shaping the future of global trade cannot be ignored. The success of the Iraq Development Road initiative could not only boost Turkey's economy but also redefine its position on the world stage as an important trading partner.


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