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Could the 'Middle Corridor' offer a secure trade route that bypasses the Red Sea?

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Amidst escalating tensions in the Middle East and disruptions in global trade routes due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, the 5th Balkans and Black Sea Forum explored alternatives for a secure supply chain. 

The "Middle Corridor," a proposed trade route linking Chinese and European markets through Central Asia and the Caucasus, took center stage during the conference held on February 15th. Delegates highlighted its potential as a stable trade route in the face of regional conflicts.

The Middle Corridor envisions a route from Kazakhstan's eastern border with China, traversing the Caspian and Black Sea to transport goods to Europe. According to a World Bank report from November 2023, this corridor could significantly reduce travel times between China and Europe, offering an alternative to traditional routes disrupted by various crises.

Despite its potential benefits, critics raise concerns about the geopolitical ambitions of Russia and China, suggesting potential risks associated with the Middle Corridor proposal. Meanwhile, ongoing attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea further underscore the need for alternative routes. The Red Sea, a crucial waterway accounting for up to 12% of global trade, has witnessed a 42% drop in trade volume over the last two months, as estimated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

To address these challenges, the European Union has initiated 'Mission Aspides,' a naval mission designed to protect European-operated ships, restore freedom of navigation in the region, and revitalize trade to its former levels. As traditional trade routes face disruptions, the exploration of alternative corridors becomes imperative for ensuring a secure and stable supply chain between China and Europe.

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Source: Euro News