Indian exports may drop by $30 billion amid Houthi threat on Red Sea - Hindustan Times

Indian exports may drop by $30 billion amid Houthi threat on Red Sea

ByVaishnawi Sinha
Jan 09, 2024 06:16 AM IST

As the threat to cargo ships rises on the Red Sea, India can potentially take a major hit when it comes to exports.

As the threats to cargo vessels on the Red Sea spikes after recent incidents, India can potentially see a drop in exports by around $30 billion, as exporters hold back on shipments due to rising fears.

Indian Navy rescued a hijacked cargo ship from the Houthis (PTI)(PTI)
Indian Navy rescued a hijacked cargo ship from the Houthis (PTI)(PTI)

Last year's export total stood at around $451 billion, and the rise in the fears regarding cargo ships on the Red Sea can see a drop of around 6-7 percent, said an initial assessment by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a New Delhi-based thinktank.

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Sachin Chaturvedi, the director general of the thinktank told Bloomberg, "The crisis in the Red Sea would indeed impact India’s trade and may lead to further contraction." However, the government hasn't released any estimates of loss of exports due to the Red Sea crisis.

In view of the rising threats on the Red Sea, the number of vessels passing through the Suez Canal has also dropped by 44 percent, as compared to the average first half of December 2023, according to Clarkson Research Services Ltd, a unit of the world’s largest ship broker.

Red Sea is one of the most relied upon export routes for India as it is the primary route for shipping to Europe, the US East Coast, the Middle East and African countries. The Modi government is in process of holding talks with export commission councils to ensure a safe passage for export vessels.

Cargo ship threats on Red Sea

In the middle of the war between Israel and Hamas, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militants have resorted to targeting vessels passing through the Red Sea with missiles over the past few weeks. The Houthis say they are going after any vessels that have a connection with Israel.

Last week, India sent a warship to the Arabian Sea where a Liberian-flagged vessel said it was hijacked near Somalia’s coast. The Indian Navy said it “successfully rescued” the ship. However, this has sparked major fears amid Indian export cargo ships.

According to Ajay Sahai, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, the rising threats has prompted the Indian exports to hold back on around 25 percent of their cargo ships transitioning through the Red Sea.

India usually exports a variety of goods including petroleum products, cereals, and chemicals using the Red Sea route. Exports in the current fiscal year are already flagging with a 6.5% contraction in the April to November period from a year ago, according to government data.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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