Suez Canal
Suez Canal

The alternative international maritime trade routes will not pose a threat to the maritime navigation in the Suez Canal, the shortest passage between Asia and Europe, George Safwat, spokesperson of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said.

“The world’s other crossings haven’t impacted the market share of the Suez Canal so far,” Safwat told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The other crossings refer to an Iranian sea corridor that commercially connects Russia with India, and the Russian North Pole crossing through which Russia seeks to create a main trade path for transferring goods between Asia and Europe.

On July 5, Iran’s Chabahar Free Trade Zone announced that the trade path which connects the Indian port of Mumbai, Hamburg and St. Petersburg will replace the Suez Canal.

The move raised concerns about its impact on the Suez Canal’s revenues, a key source for Egypt’s hard currency and a major pillar in the country’s economy.

“The SCA takes the concept of competitiveness seriously as a motive for promoting the performance of its navigation path,” Safwat said, adding that when any new or even future maritime channel appears, the SCA’s economic unit immediately carries out studies to reduce their impacts on the Suez Canal’s revenues.

He added that the Russian North Pole crossing operates only for four months per year from July till October, noting that the weak frozen path limits the capacity of its passage.

“Since 2000 we have been following the progress of the Iranian sea corridor which seems at beginning to be a possible competitor to the Suez Canal in the future,” Safwat said.

The shipping time of the corridor, however, is costly long, said the spokesperson, adding that in 2019 nearly 8 million tons of goods passed through the Iranian passage, while more than 1 billion tons went through the Suez Canal in the same year.

He added that 90 percent of the goods passed through the Iranian sea corridor is intra-Asian trade, which is different from the trade through the Suez Canal.

The number of ships crossing the Suez Canal increased to 19,300 over the year 2019-2020, compared to 18,500 ships over the year 2018/2019, according to official statistics.

Safwat said that despite a decrease in world trade movements because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suez Canal managed to attract ships from far geographical locations via marketing policies that include a package of incentives.

Revenues for the canal rose 2 percent during the first four months of 2020, recording 1.907 billion U.S. dollars, up from 1.869 billion dollars during the same period of 2019, he added.

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