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Macron names former Engie chief as envoy for future Asia-EU corridor

Published 02/12/2024, 04:56 AM
Updated 02/12/2024, 05:36 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Gerard Mestrallet, Chairman of Engie and Chairman of Paris Europlace, attends the Paris Europlace International Financial Forum in Paris, France, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
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PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron named the former head of gas utility Engie as its special envoy to a multinational rail and ports project linking the Middle East and South Asia tipped as an alternative to China's Belt and Road initiative.

By naming Gerard Mestrallet, a well-connected veteran of the energy industry, Macron wants "France to become a key player in this project" and ensure French companies are best-positioned in the early phases of the project, his office said on Monday.

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) was launched on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi in September last year and is part of Washington and Brussels's plan to counter China's flagship global infrastructure project.

It aims to link Middle East countries by railway and connect them to India by port, helping the flow of energy and trade from the Gulf to Europe, U.S. and European officials have said, by cutting shipping times, costs and fuel use.

A memorandum of understanding on IMEC was signed by the European Union, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. and other G20 partners.

IMEC is envisioned to consist of two separate corridors with an east corridor connecting India to the Gulf, and a northern corridor connecting the Gulf with Europe, according to the MOU.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Gerard Mestrallet, Chairman of Engie and Chairman of Paris Europlace, attends the Paris Europlace International Financial Forum in Paris, France, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

Along the railway route, participants intend to lay cable for power and data lines, as well as a pipeline for hydrogen derived from renewable energy for use in power generation.

(This story has been refiled to fix a typo in paragraph 1)

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