India At Key Juncture Of World Trade: Israel Suggests Gujarat Alternative To Red Sea Tensions; What Is It?

In recent weeks, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have intensified their attacks on ships linked to Israel in the Red Sea as a show of solidarity with Gaza. This has put a halt on global trade, as around 12% of it passes through the Red Sea, which links the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal.

Given the current situation, ships are being forced to take a longer route, traveling all the way to the south of Africa and crossing the Cape of Good Hope, which increases both costs and time taken.

Due to this disruption in trade, seafarers now have the right to refuse to sail on ships passing through the Red Sea, as per a new industry agreement signed last week.

To bypass the Red Sea and continue trading, Israel has been exploring alternative routes. On February 13, Transport Minister Miri Regev posted a video on social media, explaining an alternative trade route that involves the Mundra port in Gujarat.

Under this route, goods will be transported from Mundra by sea to ports in the UAE, such as Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port, and then via land through Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Israel. A significant part of the land transport will be carried out on trucks.

Two shipping companies, Israel’s Trucknet and the UAE’s PureTrans, will operate these trucks, according to reports in Israeli and Arab media.

Regev stated in her video, “We are now in the port of Mundra, the largest port in India in the north, from which goods come out… all these containers are exported to the UAE, and from the UAE by land to Israel. The war posed challenges before us, the biggest challenge being how do we bring goods to the State of Israel, as Israel is a coastal state and most goods arrive by sea… Cargo will depart from Mundra to ports via the sea, and then we will load it onto trucks or trains, through Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Israel.”

The Mundra port route has been in the works for some time and was first proposed during the Abraham Accords in 2020, aimed at normalizing ties between Israel and some Arab states.

However, the land route has its limitations. Trucks can carry far fewer goods than a ship can, which means trade will be limited.

Furthermore, the success of this route depends on Israel maintaining friendly ties with Saudi Arabia and Jordan amidst the rapidly fluctuating situation in the Middle East.