With $200 billion of India’s trade flows with Europe, North America and South America at risk due to the blockage of the Suez Canal, the Department of Commerce has worked out an action plan to cope with the crisis, including possibly re-routing shipments through the Cape of Good Hope.
More than 200 vessels are waiting on the North and South sides of the Suez Canal and about 60 vessels are joining this queue daily, officials said.
“If two more days are taken before the efforts result in clearance of the canal (digging on both sides, extra barges being added on every high tide, tugboats, etc. to straighten the stuck vessel), the total backlog created would be about 350 vessels,” the Commerce and Industry Ministry said in a statement, estimating this backlog alone would take about a week to clear.
Export promotion agencies have been asked to identify cargo with perishable items that need priority movement. Container Shipping Lines Association was advised to explore the option of re-routing ships via the Cape of Good Hope.
“Such re-routing usually takes 15 additional days’ time,” officials were informed at a meeting. Shipping firms have promised to honour existing freight contracts, while ports have been advised to be ready for a bunching up of vessels once the canal is unblocked.