Published On: Wed, Sep 13th, 2023
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Desperate Putin pushes for new trade route with India to bypass Europe as Sunak struggles | World | News

Russia has expressed its interest in developing an alternative maritime route between Vladivostok and Chennai, bypassing Europe, in an attempt to strengthen trade ties with India.

A Russian delegation, led by Sergey Mochalnikov, Deputy Minister of Energy Minister, Russian Federation, and Maxim Reshetnikov from the Ministry of Economic Development of Russian Federation, conveyed this message to Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, during a meeting in Vladivostok.

Sonowal, who is leading an Indian delegation to the 8th Eastern Economic Forum meeting in Vladivostok, extended an invitation for an Indo-Russian workshop on the Eastern Maritime Corridor (EMC) in Chennai.

The workshop aims to bring together port authorities, railways, logistics and shipping companies, and trade transporters from both countries to discuss the operationalisation of the EMC.

The EMC is expected to reduce the transportation time between Indian and Russian ports in the Far East region by up to 16 days, compared to the current route via Europe. The existing trade route between Mumbai and St. Petersburg covers a distance of 8,675 nautical miles and takes approximately 35 to 40 days. In contrast, the proposed Chennai-Vladivostok sea route will cover a distance of about 5,600 nautical miles and can be completed in approximately 10 to 12 days.

The Indian government sees the operationalisation of the EMC as a significant step toward enhancing trade relations between India and Russia. Sonowal emphasised that the initiative aligns with India’s flagship program, Sagarmala, which aims to boost the country’s logistics sector performance by leveraging its coastline and waterways.

Meanwhile, the UK is facing struggles in reaching a trade deal with India. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed optimism that the two countries can overcome the final negotiation hurdles. Following a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit, both leaders signalled their commitment to continue working towards a free trade agreement.

However, the trade pact has been delayed due to various issues, including disagreements over the number of visas for Indian workers in the UK and the level of market access for British car manufacturers in India. Despite these challenges, Sunak stated that there is a desire on both sides to see a successful trade deal concluded.

The UK government views a trade deal with India as a significant post-Brexit opportunity, offering British companies more favorable access to a market of 1.4 billion people. While progress has been made, the final obstacles need to be addressed before an agreement can be reached.

One key difference between the UK and India lies in their stance on Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine. Sunak has been vocal in condemning Russia‘s actions, while India has maintained open ties with the Kremlin since the invasion began in February 2022.

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