The newly expanded Suez Canal, which is due to be inaugurated next week, has provoked a new wave of speculation as to whether the canal’s larger waterway will bring in more traffic, as the toll rates may deter ships, and therefore higher volumes, World Maritime News reported trade analysts Argus as saying.
In a previous news story by PTI, it was reported that Egypt were planning to build a new waterway so that ships could more easily merge into the Suez Canal via Port Said.
However, Argus claimed that freight-rate issues will push more traffic into the Cape route, especially in reflection of current bunker prices.
Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping, said: “I expect experience will tell over time as to by how much numbers will increase and [the expansion’s] impact.”
The Suez Canal Authority has previously said that ships with a draft of up to 20.1 metres will be able to pass through the canal and waiting will be cut down to three hours from up to 11.
Despite the issues with freight rates, many shipping lines had begun using the Asia-US route via the Suez Canal during recent strike action at US West Coast (USWC) ports.
US East Coast ports have since seen a surge in container volumes, with no sign of a switch back once operations improve along the USWC. This may be intensified once the Suez Canal is open for business, with more ships permanently using this route over the Panama Canal if the tolls don’t prove to be an issue.