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Suez Canal Blockage Could Affect UK Supply Chains

Logistics UK has warned that the logjam caused by a stranded cargo vessel in the Suez Canal could have a global impact on supply chains for weeks to come. Although the giant container ship, Ever Given, was dislodged on 29 March, hundreds of ships are already queuing to pass through the canal.

Traffic has now resumed along the canal which links the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, and is usually one of the world’s busiest trading routes. Logistics UK reports that over 300 ships are currently waiting to travel through the canal. Alex Veitch, General manager for Public Policy, commented:

“Any delay to deliveries from the Far East will mean delays in picking up goods from UK ports for export, as well as slowing down deliveries into the UK’s supply chain. Goods affected by the delays will include seasonal stock for UK retailers, so gaps may start to appear unless the situation is resolved quickly.”

Veitch warned that while it is vital to clear the backlog as soon as possible, there was likely to be congestion at ports along the supply chain which would cause a slowdown in productivity. The BBC News website reports that experts believe the knock-on effect on global shipping could take weeks or even months to resolve.

Some ships diverted their routes away from the Suez Canal, to make a longer trip around the southern tip of Africa. As well as late arrivals and port congestion, there will also be disruption to future sailing schedules. This could lead to a rise in the cost of shipping goods to Europe, the BBC understands.

The Ever Given is now undergoing an inspection at Great Bitter Lake. So far, mechanical or engine failure have been ruled out as a cause of the incident. It is expected that a full investigation will take place into the events, to ensure the safe and timely passage of vessels in the future.

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