Could the Suez canal block hit global supply chains?

Could the Suez canal block hit global supply chains?

A container ship blocking the Suez Canal like a “beached whale” sent new shockwaves through global trade on Thursday (25). Over its 150-year history, Egypt’s Suez Canal has seen wars and crises — but nothing quite like the stranding of the Ever Given.

Dredgers, tugboats and even a backhoe failed to free a giant cargo ship wedged in Egypt’s Suez Canal.

The iconic shipping journal Lloyd’s List estimates that goods worth $9.6 billion passes through the canal every day. Lloyd’s says about $5.1 billion of that traffic is westbound and $4.5 billion is eastbound.

When it comes to shipping goods from Asia to Europe, there are virtually no alternatives such as rail or truck transportation, said Sharat Ganapati, an economics professor at Georgetown University.

The United States will face less of a direct impact as they receive most shipments from Asia on the West Coast.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said the canal blockage likely won’t have much impact on the U.S. or global economies unless it drags on for weeks or months.

It may push up oil prices, “but we are not talking dollars on the barrel, we are talking pennies on the barrel,” Zandi said.

About 1.9 million barrels of oil a day go through the canal, according to Lloyd’s. That’s about 7% of all seaborne oil.

If the canal is cleared soon, the impact on the global market will be limited, said Jim Burkhard, who heads crude oil research at IHS Markit.