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Last updated: 30 Mar, 2021  

Even.Given.9.thmb.jpg Suez Canal unblocked

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Bikky Khosla | 30 Mar, 2021

The container ship that blocked the Suez Canal has been freed and is now on the move. Last week, this massive 400-meter container ship, 'Even Given', weighing 200,000 metric tons, stuck in the canal, leading to a sudden halt in regional shipping supplies. The Suez Canal holds significant importance in world trade as 12 percent of global shipments go via it, and now the end of the crisis is, no doubt, welcome news.

India is a major importer of crude oil – approximately 500,000 barrels per day -- via the Suez Canal, and the six-day long blockade raised concern of catapulting the crude prices, with its eventual impact on retail price as well. The longer the closure would have been, the more disruptive the impact was likely to be. Experts even warned that a blockade beyond the coming spring tide would have begun affecting operations on a broader scale.

Our exporters were worried as well. The Covid-19 pandemic has already hit the global trade hard, and now the Suez logjam was not at all welcome. Shipments would have got delayed, and exporters, particularly those who work on the payment against delivery model, would have faced working capital crunch. But fortunately, the ship has been successfully refloated now, and it is widely expected that shipping navigation will not take much time to gear up again.

It was encouraging to see that while efforts were underway to bring an end to the crisis, the Centre, aware of the gravity of the issue, came up with a four-point plan -- in discussion with the stakeholders -- to deal with the situation. The plan outlined, among other measures, identifying cargo for priority movement and exploring the option of re-routing of ships via the Cape of Good Hope. This level of proactiveness is really praiseworthy.

I invite your opinions.
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