The Asia-africa Growth Corridor: Content, Motivation and Prospects
As a collaborative vision to create a growth corridor and industrial network across the Indo-pacific region, the Asia-africa Growth Corridor is becoming a major pivot for Japan-india strategic cooperation. Despite obstacles ahead, the initiative is bound to advance in the long term with implications on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The Asia-africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is a collaborative vision shared by India and Japan to create a growth corridor and industrial network connecting Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa across the Indo-pacific region. Once it was raised, the AAGC was tagged as aiming at “countering the Belt and Road (the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative),”1 as there is a high level of overlapping in geographic coverage and cooperation fields between the AAGC and the Belt and Road Initiative. What’s more, the AAGC came out less than ten days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to send delegates to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. Therefore, in order to promote the Belt and Road Initiative across this region, it is necessary to evaluate of the motivation behind the AAGC, as well as its prospects, so as to properly deal with possible competition originating from it.
Lou Chunhao is Associate Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Institute for Maritime Strategic Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).
1 Manas Dasgupta, “OBOR Counter? Modi for Asia-africa Corridor,” May 23, 2017, http://www. tribuneindia.com/news/nation/obor-counter-modi-for-asia-africa-corridor/411899.html; Sudip Bhattacharyya, “The Asia-africa Growth Corridor Is the Answer to the OBOR,” June 22, 2017, http://www.dnaindia.com/ analysis/column-the-asia-africa-growth-corridor-is-the-answer-to-obor-2479792; Titli Basu, “Thinking Africa: India, Japan, and the Asia-africa Growth Corridor,” June 03, 2017, http://thediplomat.com/2017/06/thinkingafrica-india-japan-and-the-asia-africa-growth-corridor; Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, “Pushing Back against China’s One Belt One Road, India, Japan Build Strategic ‘Great Wall’,” Economic Times, May 16, 2017.
Content of the Proposed Asia-africa Growth Corridor
On May 23, 2017, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that “India,
2 “PM’S Address at the Inauguration of the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank,” Government of India, May 23, 2017, http://www.pmindia.gov.in/en/news_updates/pms-address-at-theinauguration-of-the-annual-meeting-of-the-african-development-bank/?comment=disable.
3 Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Institute of Developing Economies-japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO), Asia Africa Growth Corridor: Partnership for Sustainable and Innovative Development, A Vision Document, pp. 3-4.
the United States and Japan are cooperating to support the development of Africa” and he had “fully discussed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on this issue.” He then stated India and Japan would jointly develop an Asiaafrica Growth Corridor and a vision document of the Asia-africa Growth Corridor Partnership for Sustainable and Innovative Development was drawn up.2 In the document, which was jointly produced by three think tanks, namely the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and the Institute of Developing Economies-japan External Trade Organization (IDEJETRO), it is pointed out that the AAGC will be instrumental in creating new production channels, expanding and deepening existing value chains, ensuring economic and technical cooperation for enhancing capacities, facilitating a greater flow of people between the two continents, and achieving sustainable growth over the longer term. The AAGC will be developed through quality infrastructure and complemented by digital and regulatory connectivity.3 Although no detailed implementation procedures have been made public, based on official documents released by governments of India and Japan, as well as the research findings of the think tanks concerned, the main content and features of this initiative can be concluded as below: Geographically, the AAGC covers the Indo-pacific region, with special emphasis on “Maritime Asia” and Africa. The AAGC claims to promote integration between Asia and Africa across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. However, such a broad geographic coverage would increase the difficulty of strategic coordination between Japan and India, and might obscure the distribution of strategic resources and make it hard to achieve the two countries’ interests. Judging from the present situation, Maritime Asia and Africa are the priority areas for Japan and India in their efforts to build the AAGC.