Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor has the potential to ‘transform’ the global maritime trade, and invited investors to partner with the country to be a part of the initiative.
Speaking at the inauguration of the third Global Maritime India Summit (GIMS) via a video-link, Modi said India was able to forge a historic consensus at the G20 for the IMEEC, and added that the initiative will prove to be a catalyst for prosperity, the same as Silk Route was a few centuries ago.
He also unveiled ‘Amrit Kaal Vision 2047’, a blueprint for the Indian maritime blue economy.
In line with this futuristic plan, the prime minister inaugurated, dedicated to the nation and laid the foundation stone four projects worth more than ₹23,000 crore that are aligned with the ‘Amrit Kaal Vision 2047’ for the Indian maritime blue economy.
The summit was also attended by Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) Sarbananda Sonowal and his deputies Sripad Naik and Shantanu Thakur, officials from the ministry and other stakeholders.
“The corridor (IMEEC) has the potential to transform the global maritime industry,” he said, adding that the initiative announced at the G20 meeting in New Delhi earlier this year will drive positive changes in global and regional trade.
“For investors, this is an opportunity to partner with India and be a part of these efforts (of making the corridor happen),” he added.
Modi said the corridor entails a slew of developmental initiatives, including building next generation mega ports, international container transshipment ports, island development, inland waterways and expansion of multi-modal hubs.
The IMEEC will help reduce the cost of business by making logistics more efficient, curtail damage to the environment and also create a lot of jobs, Modi said addressing the summit, which had delegates from over 70 countries.
He said that as the Silk Route of the past changed the economy of many countries, this corridor too will transform the picture of global trade.
The PM said the world order is changing post-Covid and the entire world is looking towards India with new aspirations. He added that the domestic economy is continuously getting stronger to be the third largest.
Very few countries are blessed with development, demography, democracy and demand, Modi said, inviting global investors to be part of India’s growth journey, wherein the country aspires to break into the league of ‘developed’ nations in 25 years.
He stated that India’s economy is constantly strengthening at a time when the world is dealing with economic crisis, and said the day is not far when India will become one of the top economies in the world.
Underscoring the role of sea routes in global trade, the prime minister emphasized the need for a reliable global supply chain in the post-Covid world.
Modi listed the systematic steps undertaken to strengthen the sector in the last few years and underlined the transformative impact of the historic G20 consensus on the proposed India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor.
He said that Next Generation Mega Port, International Container Trans-shipment port, island development, inland waterways, and multi-modal hub will be undertaken under this leading to a reduction in business cost and environmental degradation will improve logistical efficiency and create jobs.
The prime minister reiterated that investors have a great opportunity to become part of this campaign and join India.
Modi said his government has been working to strengthen the maritime sector in the last 9-10 years, and added that whenever India’s maritime capabilities have been strong in history, the country and the world have benefitted from it.
In the last decade, major ports’ capacity has doubled, turnaround time for containers has come down to 24 hours from 42 hours in 2014, thousands of kilometres of roads have been built for better port connectivity, Modi said, pointing that employment generation and ease of living are the primary drivers for these efforts.
‘Ports for Prosperity’ and ‘Ports for progress’ are a vision for the government, Modi said, adding that the mantra is to ‘Make in India, make for the world’.
Without specifying a timeline, Modi said the government will develop shipbuilding and repair centres across the country.
Building the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Virat is a testament to the country’s capabilities, he added.
Four global ship leasing companies have registered with the GIFT-IFSC, Modi said, exhorting more entities in the ship leasing trade to set up business in India’s only IFSC in Gujarat.
He said India’s large coastline, strong riverine ecosystem and rich cultural heritage create great possibilities for maritime tourism. A cruise terminal is being built in the financial capital, while similar facilities have come up in Visakhapatnam and Chennai, he said.
Terming the 5,000-year-old Lothal dockyard as the ‘cradle of shipping’, Modi said a National Maritime Heritage Complex is also coming up at the site in Gujarat.
He also noted that the country has started the world’s biggest river cruise service to promote maritime tourism.
Talking about the government’s focus on the ship-building and repair sector, the prime minister said that indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is proof of India’s capacity.
“India is going to become one of the top five ship-building nations in the coming decade. Our mantra is ‘Make in India – Make for the world’,” the prime minister said.
He said that the government is working to bring together all stakeholders in the sector through maritime clusters.
“We are moving towards a future where the blue economy will be the medium to create a green planet,” he said.
He underlined that coastal shipping Modes are also being modernised and said that the coastal cargo traffic has doubled in the last decade, thereby providing a cost-effective logistic option to the people.
On the development of inland waterways in India, the prime minister said that cargo handling of national waterways grew by four times.