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Erdoğan lauds $17bn link between Turkey and Iraq

The UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iraq are all "very, very determined" on the $17bn project said Turkey's President Erdoğan Reuters/Brendan McDermid
The UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iraq are all "very, very determined" on the $17bn project, said Turkey's President Erdoğan
  • Project will be ‘a new world’
  • 1,200km of rail, roads and pipelines
  • Turkey wants to triple Gulf trade

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lauded plans for a $17 billion infrastructure and transportation project linking southern Iraq to Turkey as an opportunity to “build a new world”.

The Development Road project will link Grand Faw Port, a commodities port in Iraq, by rail and road to the border with Turkey.

It will transform the country into a transit hub by reducing travel time between Asia and Europe in a bid to rival the Suez Canal.

The project was announced in May and is expected to be completed in 2025.

The corridor will pass through the Gulf countries and Iraq and go to Europe through Turkey, Daily Sabah newspaper reported citing an Erdoğan speech at the Concordia Annual Summit in New York.

“Be it the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, they are all very, very determined on this issue,” he stated.

After a temporary slowdown as a result of political unrest between 2013 and 2020, the volume of Turkey’s trade with the Gulf has reached $22 billion, according to the Turkish government. Turkey has plans to almost triple this figure in the next five years.

Meanwhile Turkey's exports to Iraq stood at almost $14 billion during 2022, according to the United Nations Comtrade database on international trade.

The proposed project will involve the construction of about 1,200 km of railways and highways. It will have high-speed trains moving goods and passengers up to 300 km per hour, linking regional industry hubs and an energy component including oil and gas pipelines.

World leaders earlier this month announced a shipping and rail transportation corridor linking countries across the Middle East, South Asia and Europe at the G20 summit in New Dehli, India.

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (Imec) aims to integrate railway routes and link ports along a route spanning from India to Europe through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries account for 7.1 percent of foreign direct investment in Turkey since 2020, with $15.8 billion in stock as of 2022, according to the Atlantic Council.

Qatar provided Turkey with the most foreign direct investment of the GCC countries, investing $10 billion, according to the Atlantic Council. This is followed by the UAE with more than $3 billion and Saudi Arabia with $500 million.

The central banks of Qatar, the UAE, China and South Korea have provided nearly $24 billion via swap agreements, while Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Azerbaijan have $8 billion in deposits in CBRT accounts, according to the Middle East Institute.