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India banks on US$9 billion mega port to reboot its Europe trade corridor plans

The deepwater facility being built in Vadhavan, western India’s Maharashtra state, for 762 billion rupees “will be an integral part of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor”, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told reporters on June 19.

When completed by 2036, it is set to rank among the top 10 ports globally, boasting an unprecedented nine container terminals and the country’s biggest handling capacity. India’s government projects the public-private partnership will create 1.2 million jobs and make long-haul cargo transport far more cost-effective.

But Indian analysts argue regional tensions may ultimately prove a short-term hurdle rather than a fatal flaw for the scheme.

“I don’t think this problem in the Middle East is going to be a forever issue,” said Sreeradha Dutta, an international affairs professor at Jindal Global University, who added that the new deep water port “has huge potential”.

“I am upbeat about it because India’s track record has been improving in implementing such plans,” she said.

As the start of the IMEC, the new mega port in Vadhavan could become a “gateway for India’s commerce with Europe and the Gulf region”, Dutta said.

Foundations for broader cooperation already exist – India has a free trade deal with the UAE and is negotiating another with the EU.

The IMEC project also envisions supply chain integration to promote joint manufacturing, undersea data cables, and a hydrogen pipeline as a sustainable fuel alternative, aligning with Gulf nations’ economic diversification plans.

“India’s aspirations as a rising economy” meant the IMEC and Vadhavan were “certainly worth pursuing, despite the complexities and problems”, Dutta said.

India’s proven track record in developing modern