President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is to open and mark the beginning of operations at the US$8.5 billion Suez Canal expansion in a ceremony being attended by French President Francois Hollande on August 6, 2015.
The canal is anticipated to reinvigorate the Egyptian economy by sparking new investor interest into the country’s port and infrastructure sector after years of political turmoil, and could generate as much as $13 billion of annual revenue for the country.
According to Arab News, Maersk Line Egypt is currently the canal’s largest client and expects there to be little change in the number of ships traversing the waterway.
Mohammad Shihab, Managing Director of Maersk Line Egypt, said: “Last year we put 1,400 ships through the canal. We will put roughly the same number through this year.”
Nicholas Sartini, a Senior VP for the CMA CGM group added that the canal will not change much overnight, however in time the expansion, which allows ships to pass each other on a two way channel, will slash transit times from 18 to 11 hours.
The Suez Canal is now the fastest trade lane globally and has been completed in an astonishing 10 months.
The Suez Canal has beaten the Panama Canal in getting an expansion complete, with the South American trade lane due to open in early 2016.
Therefore, in the space of six months the world’s trade network will have been hugely optimised.