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Red Sea attacks add urgency to alternate Mideast trade route

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NEW DELHI : The volatile situation in the Red Sea increases the need for an alternate trade corridor to ship goods from India to Europe, India’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said.

India has taken the first steps with the UAE to begin work on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, or IMEC, Sunjay Sudhir said in an interview in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization meeting. The two countries want to take a lead in developing the project, he said.

Yemen-based Houthi militants began attacking military and commercial ships traveling through the Red Sea in November, prompting the US and UK to respond with airstrikes.

Almost all of India’s trade with Europe goes through the Red Sea channel, Sudhir said, adding to the urgency for the IMEC project. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in February, the two nations signed a framework agreement to begin work on it, and India’s government ministries in charge of ports and shipping have now started talks with Abu Dhabi’s port, he said.

“If things happen the way they are happening today, it is so critical to have alternate supply route,” he said. “India and UAE being the first two countries in the corridor, it is very important for us to take the lead.”

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