A group of bilateral business councils announced a new initiative on April 19 to promote the I2U2 cooperative between Israel, India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
The four countries established the I2U2 in October 2021 as an intergovernmental economic cooperation forum. The group formed during U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call with Israeli, Emirati and Indian counterparts.
U.S. President Joe Biden, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mohamed Bin Zayed—then de facto United Arab Emirates ruler and now its president—attended a virtual I2U2 meeting last July.
The leaders agreed to an Israeli-backed food corridor between the United Arab Emirates and India to combat wheat shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel and the United Arab Emirates backed $300 million in funding for clean-energy projects in India.
More recently, the I2U2 convened in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 22 to discuss food security.
On Wednesday, the U.A.E.-India Business Council, the U.A.E.-Israel Business Council and the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to generate private-sector support for economic partnership at the I2U2’s foundation.
The MoU was announced in Washington at an event with U.S. Under Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, Indian Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Sripriya Ranganathan, Israeli Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Eliav Benjamin and UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba.
“We’re delighted to be part of this important and far-reaching initiative, which will connect the business community to promote stronger cooperation between the governments of the USA, UAE, India and Israel,” stated Dorian Barak, president of the U.A.E.-Israel Business Council. “Commerce is the strongest foundation for successful I2U2 engagement, which is emerging as an important pillar of regional economic integration.”
The new agreement—directly supported by all four governments—calls for the participating business councils to broadly work together within the I2U2 framework to “deepen technological and private sector collaboration in the region and address transnational challenges while bringing together private-sector stakeholders to promote greater business opportunities within the six key sectors of focus for the initiative,” according to a joint statement from the councils.
The MoU sets forward an agreement to convene events in each country with top government officials and business leaders; hold virtual meetings with key businesses in core I2U2 sectors, including food security, energy, water, space, transport, health and technology; and generate white papers and studies among think tanks and scholars in I2U2 countries about the initiative’s potential.