Bishal Chowdhury
Research Intern at Jindal Centre for the Global South
O.P. Jindal Global University

The Mediterranean countries constitute a region which has, throughout history, had a highly commercial orientation to them. The Mediterranean region which encompasses the geographic locations of Iberia in the west; western coasts of Anatolia to the east; southern France in the north and the North African countries in the south, has a remarkable interconnectedness owing to the Phoenicians and their expeditions in the Mediterranean sea, which began in the Levant (present day Lebanon) and stretched all the way to the Iberian peninsula, to establish commercial outposts and connect these lands not just commercially but also culturally. This leads to the nations of this region also sharing common concerns and having some common interests. (Lopez-Ruiz, C., 2022).

India and its Growing Connectivity to the Mediterranean countries

India has always aimed to keep stable and friendly relations with all nations, especially the neighboring ones. India’s interests in the Mediterranean countries are mostly commercial. The Mediterranean countries have many resources from wheat to olives, from zinc to copper. These resources are essential for the needs of all countries, especially developing countries. As such India’s growing partnership with the Mediterranean countries makes sense because India, as a developing nation, would like to secure these essential commodities for its growth. India has strategically connected itself with the Mediterranean countries through the Gulf region. One of the key dynamics of India’s growing connectivity in the Mediterranean countries is a food supply corridor connecting India with Greece by transiting U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia. The trade between India and Egypt has grown by 74.77 per cent over the period of 2017-2022. In the same period, the growth in total trade for India has been 70.15 per cent, 81.61 per cent, 97.65 per cent, 99.82 per cent and 64.90 per cent, with Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Greece, and Morocco respectively. (Ministry of Commerce and Industry GOI, n.d.). This is a clear depiction of the growing importance of Mediterranean countries in India’s economic relations with the world.

Source: Ministry of Commerce, Government of India

The Mediterranean Countries of the Present: A Shadow of its Former Self

Historically, the Mediterranean countries have always been a place of cosmopolitanism, trade and intermixing of various cultures. However, in the present day, it is rife with all sorts of problems. The Mediterranean countries have become the most dangerous migration route in the world since the 2000’s. This problem became ever more apparent in 2015 when over 100,000 migrants and asylum seekers fled West Asia and East Africa to come to Europe. Another problem in the Mediterranean countries is the political stability of the governments of the nation-states in the region. The north Mediterranean countries to the north have a political stability and absence of violence/terrorism index rating of in the range of 0.15 to 0.25 (Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism (Index), n.d.), with the lowest being -4 to the highest being 2. The south Mediterranean countries are in the negative side of the index with Egypt being -1.42, Algeria being -0.96, Morocco being -0.41 and Libya being -2.33. In the East, Greece and Turkey have a rating of -0.13 and -1.8 in 2017, respectively. (Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism (Index) World Bank, n.d.). This paints a very grim picture of the region wherein there are many disparities. Moreover, events like the Arab Spring, the rise of terrorist organizations, military coups, dictatorships, civil wars, and geopolitical tensions, especially the tensions between Greece and Turkey (Dalay, 2022), which have occurred in the last two decades, still plague the region and its people.  There are also certain countries of the Mediterranean region which do not have a properly functioning government. An example to the effect of this statement is Lebanon’s failure to elect a President for the fifth time. (Lebanese MPs fail for the fifth time to elect a president Arab News, 10 November 2022.). Lebanon, due to its geographic location, resources, and its history as the place from where the commercial trading in the Mediterranean countries began, is an integral part of the Mediterranean countries but during this decade, it also faced the Beirut Port blast (“They Killed Us From the Inside,” Human Rights Watch, 2021). It was also revealed in a World Bank Report how in the past 30 years the Lebanese Government had irresponsibly used public finances through its bogus fiscal policy which put the country in an economic crisis, one it is still trying to get out of. (Lebanon Public Finance Review World Bank, 2022). These are just some of the issues faced by the Mediterranean countries which hold it back. These issues are also one of the reasons why India has only started to intensify its engagement with the Mediterranean countries and still prevents India from engaging commercially with many countries in the Mediterranean region.

Conclusion: Light at the End of the Tunnel

The Mediterranean countries are an immensely important part of the world, and not in the least for India’s commercial industries. However, with the on-ground situation being very volatile in much of the Mediterranean countries, it makes it difficult for India to pursue its commercial interests. Despite this, some positive signs are certainly showing. The signing of the Abraham Accords makes the situation in South Mediterranean countries less volatile. The recent maritime boundary agreement between Israel and Lebanon brokered by the USA is also another sign of positive change in the Mediterranean countries as it sets clear boundaries for oil and natural gas exploration by both countries. (Hussain, H. R. (n.d.). India’s growing footprints are also visible when looking at some of the political signals. The External Affairs Minister’s meeting with his Cyprian counterpart in 2022 discussed about the issue of Cyprian sovereignty and signed an agreement on defence and security cooperation, when the Turkish President in a public statement had questioned India’s stance on the Kashmir issue; India’s formal invitation to the President of Egypt to be the chief guest during 2023 Republic Day celebrations are examples of such signals; and the support from the Government of India on the announcement of significant investment from India’s Adani Group and Israel’s Gadot Group in the development of Israel’s Haifa Port  (Rabinovitch & Saul, 2022).  These suggest that the cooperation of India with other Mediterranean countries is on the rise. A few other areas of future cooperation might be environment and climate change, trade and investment, intensified interactions between political institutions between India and other Mediterranean countries. The cooperation on the climate change, and trade and investment front are already taking place. But the pace should gain momentum because, with a growing population and economy India and Mediterranean countries should do things rapidly to settle themselves before the world gets too disrupted.   


López-Ruiz, C. (2022). Phoenicians and the Making of the Mediterranean countries. Harvard University Press.

Political stability and absence of violence/terrorism (index). (n.d.). Land Portal.

“They Killed Us from the Inside.” (2021, September 8). Human Rights Watch.

Lebanese MPs fail for the fifth time to elect a president. (2022, November 10). Arab News.

Hussain, H. R. (n.d.). Lebanon’s Maritime Deal with Israel. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Dalay, G. (2022, March 9). Turkey, Europe, and the Eastern Mediterranean countries: Charting a way out of the current deadlock. Brookings. countries-charting-a-way-out-of-the-current-deadlock/

Al-Ghwell, H., Mekelberg, Y., Al-Mulla, S., Phillips, C., Cengiz, S., Yakis, Y., Al-Habtoor, K. A., Abbas, F. J., Kane, F., Mekelberg, Y., Alamuddin, B., Al-Rashed, A., Cengiz, S., Shakra, E. A., Al-Qassim, M. H., Al-Shehri, H., Meyer, C., Rafizadeh, M., Belbagi, Z. M., . . . Ahmad, T. (2022, August 24). World Bank ‘Ponzi Finance’ report is damaging both to Lebanon and the bank itself. Arab News.

World Bank. (2022, July). Lebanon Public Finance Review: Ponzi Finance? (English). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.

Trade Statistics. (2022, October 28). Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Rabinovitch, A., & Saul, J. (2022, July 14). Israel sells Haifa Port to India’s Adani Ports, Israel’s Gadot for $1.2 bln. Reuters.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author (s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Jindal Centre for the Global South or its members.

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