• | 4:00 pm

India’s blue economy represents a sea of opportunities: Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance minister highlights substantial contribution of ocean resources to India’s GDP at the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue

India’s blue economy represents a sea of opportunities: Nirmala Sitharaman
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, emphasized the significance of the country’s ‘Blue Economy’, highlighting its substantial contribution to the GDP and “a sea of opportunities” it presents. 

Addressing the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue in New Delhi on Wednesday, Sitharaman underlined the pivotal role of maritime connectivity and growth in ensuring collective regional advancement and security.

“India’s ‘Blue Economy’, which accounts for roughly 4% of our GDP, represents a sea of opportunities. India has nine states and four Union territories situated on the coast, 12 major and 200 plus non-major ports situated along its coastline along with a vast network of navigable waterways for international as well as domestic trade,” she said. 

Sitharaman highlighted the sector’s role in job creation, providing over 200,000 direct and indirect employment, a number expected to increase significantly in the coming years. 

Citing UNCTAD data, she noted India’s standing as the second-largest exporter of ocean-based goods and services among developing countries in 2020, a testament to the nation’s growing maritime prowess.

“India is entirely conscious of the fact that over the foreseeable future, India’s comprehensive national power is going to remain inextricably linked to the ocean. We are seized of the pressing need to grow the maritime sector as a whole and our government is determined to provide the requisite support by way of fiscal policy and financial outlay,” Sitharaman stressed. 

“We seek to position India as a hub in new and diversified supply chains and value chains across the Indo-Pacific and, indeed, across the world. All sectors of the government are responding exceedingly positively to our new financial policies,” she added. 

On the capacity building front, the finance minister said that as many as 31 projects have been identified in nine major ports for monetization under the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) launched in 2022, with a total estimated CAPEX of 14,483 crore ($1.74 billion) for FY 2022-25.

Highlighting India’s principle of ‘leaving no one behind’, both at the national and regional level, Sitharaman encapsulated the country’s maritime policy in the acronym ‘SAGAR,’ which expands to ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region.’ 

“We truly believe that it is not possible for the Indian economy to ride on some crest while the economies of other countries of our maritime neighborhood are wallowing in some trough,” she said. 

Calling Indo-Pacific the world’s most economically dynamic region, Sitharaman said it encompasses 60% of global GDP and almost 50% of global merchandise trade.

“On the other hand, the Indo-Pacific is also a geopolitically contested space that is being roiled by great power competition,” she said.

She further said: “…two broad systems are currently engaged in a global competition centered upon the Indo-Pacific. One draws its legitimacy from an internationally accepted and consensually derived rules-based order. India stands firmly and proudly in the vanguard of this system.”

“The other seeks to discredit and disrupt this consensually derived rules-based order and supplant it with an international order whose rules are generated in an exclusive State,” she added. 

Speaking on the recently signed India-Middle East-Europe Connectivity Corridor (IMEC), Sitharaman called it “one of the most promising connectivity projects”,  which will be a win-win situation for all states involved as it enhances transportation efficiency, reduces logistic costs, increases economic unity, generates employment, and lowers Greenhouse Gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner, safer, better world.

“However, it is not without its geopolitical challenges, and the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza is a worrying manifestation of these,” she said.

The IMEC was signed on the sidelines of the G20 Summit held in New Delhi in September.

More Top Stories: