During his five-day official visit to Russia, Sonowal is pitching for speedier operationalisation of new transport corridors such as the Northern Sea Route as well as the Eastern Maritime Corridor between Vladivostok and Chennai. Before he left, the Centre had thrown its weight behind the IMEC corridor at the G20 summit.
The 8,000-kilometre multimodal transportation corridor is expected to usher faster and smoother transportation of goods and services between India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Europe.
“The foundation of the IMEC aims to bolster economic development by fostering connectivity and economic integration between Asia, the Arabian Gulf. and Europe,” Sonowal told ET. Responding to a query on whether a duty-free or low duty passage for goods is being planned from India to Europe under the IMEC, the minister said, “It is expected that the detailed standard operating procedure for the management of the corridor, including aspects like free trade agreements, harmonisation of border compliance procedures, availability of end-to-end multimodal logistics service providers, transhipment hubs and warehousing facilities, among others, will be put in place jointly by the partner countries as the project is taken forward for implementation.”
Additional investment is expected to upgrade Indian ports considering the potential of IMEC, the minister said. “Upcoming Vadhavan deep draft mega port is one such major capacity enhancement initiative which will create an all-weather deep draft capability port for handling cape size and ultra large cargo carriers,” he said.
While the West has high hopes from the IMEC, Russia is leaning more on operating the Northern Sea Route and Eastern Maritime Corridor. “Both countries have turned their attention to the Russian Far East as a focal point for strengthening economic ties,” Sonowal said. India reciprocated by announcing a $1-billion line of credit for the development of the Russian Far East and to facilitate the establishment of Indian companies in the region. “Our (India-Russia) bilateral trade was approximately $50 billion for the April 2022-March 2023 period. To facilitate a further impetus to the volume of trade between our two countries, the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime route will become operational, offering a direct trade link between the two countries,” said Sonowal.