Supply chain stakeholders on the India-UAE tradelane appear increasingly bullish about the pace of demand growth after a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) set up early last year.
Two-way trade between India and the UAE hit a new high last year, up 23% and worth some $85bn, according to official data – strong growth that refuelled industry partnerships and ocean service networks.
And major carriers, including Maersk, MSC and ONE, have added a flurry of regional connections to take advantage of the trade resurgence out of Gulf ports.
Maersk’s dedicated India-Gulf feeder service, Shaheen Express, is on a rotation of Jebel Ali, Mundra, Pipavav, Jebel Ali and Sohar, and offers, it claimed significant logistics benefits for FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods], such as electronics, perishables, textiles and chemicals.
Bhavik Mota, Maersk’s director of regional ocean management for IMEA, told The Loadstar that, as volumes grew, Maersk would invest in specialised, faster end-to-end solutions, adding: “We remain committed to the India-Gulf markets.”
In April, MSC launched a weekly string with stops at Cochin, Mundra, Karachi, Jebel Ali, Abu Dhabi, Shuwaikh (Kuwait), Hamad and Colombo, in addition to enhancing some services between Africa, the Middle East and India.
Meanwhile, DP World is another player betting on the India-UAE trade potential. The terminal giant has already unveiled attempts to ramp up its logistics ecosystems at both ends, including through its Jebel Ali Free Zone arm, as trade volumes are projected to build.
“Tariffs will have been eliminated on more than 10,000 products and services over the next 10 years, which will provide a major impact on trade between the countries and the wider Gulf region,” said DP World.
It has also expanded its Indian terminal footprint with a concession to build and operate a box facility at Deendayal Port (Kandla) on the Gujarat coast. Designed with a 1,100-metre quay and a 2.19m-teu capacity, the terminal will be capable of handling 18,000 teu containerships. The company already operates five box terminals across four Indian ports.
However, with cargo demand ticking up, shippers on the Middle East-Europe/Mediterranean tradelane are braced for freight rate increases, some already unveiled, including those for later this month from Hapag-Lloyd and GMA CGM.