India Considering Use of Piraeus Port to Expand European Exports

Piraeus port Greece
India is reported to be looking to Piraeus to become the hub to expand its exports to Europe (Pireaus port file photo)

Published Aug 17, 2023 8:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

India is reportedly exploring the possibility of using Greece’s Port of Piraeus for its European exports. According to reports in the local media, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Greece by the end of this month, with talks on utilization of the Piraeus port at the top of the agenda.

Previously, India had been planning to use Iran’s Chabahar Port as a gateway for its exports to Europe, under India’s Arabian-Mediterranean (Arab-Med) corridor. However, the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, where the trade route was to pass, continues to be an impediment to the corridor’s development.

The creation of I2U2 grouping in 2021 comprising India, Israel, the UAE, and the U.S., however has bolstered India’s cooperation with the Mediterranean countries. One of the goals of the I2U2 grouping is to encourage joint investments among member states in six sectors including: energy, food security, health, space, transportation, and water.

Leveraging on I2U2 group, India expects it could easily access European markets through the Piraeus transshipment complex, either via UAE Ports or the Adani-owned Haifa Port in Israel.

In the past decade, India has strengthened ties with Greece as its interests expand from the Indian Ocean to Eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, India’s economic security is linked to the control of sea routes connecting Europe and India. As of last year, the bilateral trade between the EU and India’s was at historical highs, with $130 billion worth of goods traded. The growth of this segment for India is thought to be behind India’s commitment to have the Arab-Med corridor to Europe functional as soon as possible.

“The emerging multi-modal, commercial corridor between India and Greece could radically reconfigure trade patterns between the Indian Ocean region, the Middle East, and Europe. It creates an arc of commercial connectivity spanning Eurasia’s southern rim from India’s Arabian Sea Coast to Greece’s eastern Mediterranean coast,” wrote Prof. Michael Tanchum in a research paper for the National University of Singapore.

“For India, this new connectivity constitutes a strategic paradigm shift of enormous geopolitical consequence that could reshape its role in the Eurasian economic order,” added Tanchum.

Meanwhile, if India’s pitch for Piraeus port goes through, it will be forced to use a Chinese controlled facility. China’s COSCO Shipping is the majority owner of the Piraeus port, with a 67 percent stake of the shareholding.