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India’s port connectivity gets booster shot, Nhava Sheva in Mumbai to now connect with Vietnam and Saudi Arabia

Nhava Sheva port upgradation (Image courtesy: ADB)

India’s maritime connectivity will get a big boost with Thai shipping line –Regional Container Lines (RCL)– deciding to upgrade its service, connecting major hubs in Southeast Asia, India and the Gulf countries. Saudi Arabia’ King Abdulaziz Port will now be part of the route for the shipping line, which will start from Cai Mep Port in Vietnam. It will then touch upon Laem Chabang in Thailand, Port Klang in Malaysia, Nhava Sheva in Mumbai, Jebel Ali just off Dubai, and Sohar in Oman besides the Saudi port. Trade and economic activities in the entire stretch are expected to surge amid changing power dynamics the world over.

The service will extend from the current 35 days to 42 days.

Though the RCL continues to deploy one vessel in this cargo service, an analyst said that at a later stage, more vessels could use this route.

“For India, this particular route will be hugely beneficial as New Delhi looks to integrate more with the Southeast Asian giants as well as the Gulf. This particular shipping line connects India with both the worlds and will enhance trade activities in the post Covid era,” the analyst told India Narrative.

Later this year, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is also slated to start a liner service from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Islamic Port, connecting Mundra and Nhava Sheva in India. This is expected to lead to a surge in economic activities between the Gulf nations and India.

After India and the UAE signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, New Delhi is now keen to ink the proposed free trade agreement at the earliest with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Saudi Arabia and UAE will also join the BRICS bloc next year. India is already strengthening trade with these countries in its own rupee.

Meanwhile India and ASEAN have an FTA but the two are looking to review the existing treaty in a bid to make it more fruitful and effective for both.

India shares maritime  borders with Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Indonesia among other nations. Therefore for New Delhi it is key to boost maritime transport facilities. As India now looks to increase its cargo handling capacity at the ports by 300 per cent by 2047, connectivity with key hubs will benefit.

Also read: Why Bangladesh’s Matarbari port is a game changer for India and the region