Russia-India set to revitalise alternative shipping line

A ship at Chennai Port.

India’s Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated the India-Russia workshop in Chennai for operationalisation of the eastern maritime corridor, linking Chennai and other ports on the east coast with Vladivostok and far east ports of Russia, on Wednesday.

The workshop was the outcome of talks between Sonowal and Alexey Chekunkov, Russian minister for the development of the Far East and Arctic, in September last year.

The minister had invited Russian delegates for a workshop in Chennai on the eastern maritime corridor, which was conceptualised during the second India Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue held in Delhi in 2019.

Currently, the majority of trade between India and Russia is executed through the western sea route, connecting the west coast of India and St Petersburg via the Suez Canal and the Baltic Sea.

The proposed eastern maritime corridor (EMC) will connect ports on the east coast to far east Russian ports via the Malacca Strait, the South China Sea and the Sea of Japan.

EMC is 40% shorter than the western sea route, and promises a transit time of less than 18 days. It will not only reduce freight charges and transit time, but also provide new avenues for trade relations in the Pacific.

The Russian delegation will be headed by Russian deputy minister Anatoly Yuryevich Bobrakov and include senior officials, industry representatives and business leaders from the Russian Federation. From the Indian side, apart from Sonowal, senior government officials from various ministries will be present.

Top business leaders from the steel, coal, oil and gas, fertilisers, shipping, seaports and terminal sectors will also participate in bilateral discussions with Russian counterparts.

The eastern maritime corridor holds immense potential for enhancing trade ties between India and the Russian Federation, especially for crude, LNG, coal, fertilisers and containers. The workshop will bring together distinguished delegates to deliberate on the corridor’s operational challenges and solutions.

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