The Chairman and Managing Director of the Suez Canal, Osama Rabie, announced Tuesday that the number of ships passing through the Suez Canal decreased by 30 percent compared to the same period last year, owing to tensions at the Red Sea.
During a telephone interview with Lamis al-Hadidi on Egypt’s “Last Word” (Kalema Akhera) television show, Rabie added that the return in US dollar also fell by 40 percent.
Regarding obligations on the Suez Canal in US dollar, he clarified: “We do not have obligations. The dollar return is pumped into the Central Bank (of Egypt), and our investment projects are dealt with through our companies and supplies from national companies such as (those of the) Military Production (Ministry) and others.”
Rabie anticipates that the rate of decline due to the events in Bab-al-Mandeb would continue at the same pace during the second half of January, adding, “I hope for a breakthrough at the end of the month.”
The head of the Suez Canal Authority responded to speculations about the possibility of securitizing the dollar revenues of the Suez Canal, saying: “I hear all the talk from the media, but in fact there is nothing on the ground. We did not sit with the Central Bank, and no one asked us about something like this.”
Crisis at the seas
The Red Sea crisis has cast a shadow over global trade, with container ships turning to sailing around Africa to avoid the region.
Huthi militants in Yemen pledged to continue targeting ships heading to Israel, despite America’s move to form Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international maritime task force, to protect the shipments.
This has resulted in a sharp decline in the movement of oil tankers through the Bab al-Mandab Strait in the Red Sea.
Up to 103 container ships have taken a long route around Africa to avoid attacks, leading to additional costs and delays, according to logistics giant Keon + Nagel.
And A.P. Moller-Maersk, the second largest container shipping line operator, expects the global chaos impacting shipping through the Red Sea to continue for several months.