Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Greece is significant in the context of establishing an India-Europe Commercial Corridor, especially when India and the EU are negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA). The corridor has the potential to reshape trade dynamics between the Indian Ocean Region, West Asia and Europe.

This corridor is a result of normalisation of geopolitical relations between the Arab world and Israel under the ‘Abraham-Accord’ coupled with India, the US, the UAE and Saudi Arabia proposing to establish a railway network connecting the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel’s Haifa port with India’s Mumbai Port.

Modi’s visit was also partly aimed at exploring a maritime gateway to Europe via Piraeus, Greece. This will allow much faster shipment of Indian goods to markets in the entire Eurasian region. Jebel Ali Port of the UAE will act as a crossroad to Indian goods to these markets, offering them quick access to Eurasian markets.

India is exploring greater access to markets of Eurasia and Africa and, accordingly, is banking on this corridor along with the existing North-South Transport Corridor, which is aimed at central Asian and East European markets with Chabahar port being an important node.

Hence, India will have three access routes to Eurasian markets — the North-South Economic Corridor, Suez Canal and India-Europe Commercial Arch (see figure).

Economic integration

India’s potential to assume a pivotal role in shaping the 21st century commercial landscape hinges on its adeptness in fostering the manufacturing value chains within the commercial arch. In this context, access to Piraeus Port in Greece can be a game-changer. It offers India avenues for seamless value chain integration. This potential arises out of synergies between India’s trade endeavours with its West Asian associates and its growing economic ties with Israel and the EU.

The corridor’s emphasis on connectivity to the Eurasian markets holds significant promise for India’s global aspirations. For instance, India intends to establish a West Asia Food Processing Corridor with close collaboration with the countries involved to enhance food production and processing capabilities. This could involve technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and investment to boost agricultural productivity, ensure food security, and minimise post-harvest losses. By leveraging India’s expertise in agriculture, Gulf countries’ investments and Israel’s agricultural technology, the proposed commercial corridor can contribute to stable food supplies for the region.

Also, this commercial arch is vital to India’s energy security. India is actively pursuing energy security through strategic engagements with countries across West Asia.

By collaborating with countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even beyond with Iraq and Russia, India aims to strengthen its energy resilience and contribute to its sustainable development goals. In this bargain, the integration of Piraeus port completes the commercial arch between India and Europe offering us key markets for exportable products as well as energy needs.

India is also looking at the vast green energy markets of West Asia. Accordingly, India’s commitment to expanding its renewable energy capacity aligns with West Asia’s potential as a hub for solar and wind energy production.

India is actively forging partnerships in West Asia and Europe in the knowledge sector as well. Leading in this effort are India’s collaboration with Israel. Enhanced economic ties through the proposed India-EU FTA will open doors to vibrant markets, showcasing India’s knowledge prowess. These alliances will leverage innovation and technology exchange, and create a strong knowledge-based economy.

India’s innovative ties with the UAE and Israel pave the way for trilateral cooperation, while strengthening bonds with Greece completes the commercial framework.

Through partnerships with the UAE, Israel and Greece, India could establish multilateral production facilities in the India-EU commercial arch.

Geostrategic landscape

The geostrategic landscape of the India-EU commercial corridor favours us as we enjoy cordial relations with the countries of the region. India has deep understanding with the origin (UAE) and destination (Greece) nodes of the arch. Initiatives like I2U2 (India-Israel-UAE-USA) and the India-Egypt-West Asia-Arab Allies grouping support the security architecture and, most importantly, each stakeholder enjoys mutual and shared benefits.

Resultantly, they are committed to the growth and development of this corridor, to access the vast and growing market of India. However, India must remain committed to the other economic corridors such as the North-South Transport Corridor and the Suez Canal.

Singh is Professor, and Chaudhary is a research scholar, at IIFT, New Delhi. Views are personal