(MENAFN) The disruption of two critical global trade routes, the Panama and Suez canals, is posing a threat to worldwide supply chains, as reported by a UK-based news agency on Friday, citing ship owners and operators.
The Panama Canal, a 50-mile-long waterway connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, is grappling with the impact of drought, resulting in a diminished water level and a consequent reduction in the canal's throughput capacity.
In contrast to the 238 vessels that traversed the canal during the first week of December 2022, this year saw only 167, according to trade analysis group MarineTraffic.
Many ships experienced delays of up to two weeks, leading to a bottleneck and prompting some vessels to take detours spanning thousands of miles to avoid costly delays, as reported by the canal authority.
“That drought in the Panama Canal is a serious concern,” Rolf Habben Jansen, chief of German group Hapag-Lloyd, the fifth biggest owner of container ships in the whole world, reported to the news network. The firm previously declared that it would reroute more than 42 of its ships away from the waterway.
Simultaneously, there are growing concerns about the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. In the wake of heightened hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Houthi rebels based in Yemen launched attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea, located just 11,500 kilometers from the canal, as a demonstration of support for Hamas. Although the attacks are purportedly targeting only ships associated with Israel, experts caution that they could potentially disrupt the canal's operations.
“If the passage through the Suez would become more difficult [as well], that could cause serious disruptions [to global supply chains],” Hapag-Lloyd’s Jansen declared. Analysts observe that any disruptions to shipping would inevitably result in a surge in prices.
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