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Egypt sees sharp decline in Suez Canal trade volume amid Red Sea turmoil

Data for 2024 up to Jan. 29 show 140.55 million metric tons of trade transiting the key chokehold compared with 145.25 million metric tons the same time last year.
Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie holds a press conference about the grounding of the Panama-flagged MV Ever Given cargo ship in the waterway, Suez, March 27, 2021.

Nearly 5 million metric tons (mt) less trade and 150 fewer vessels transited the Suez Canal in January compared to the same time the previous year, according to data aggregated by Al-Monitor, as increasing attacks on shipping in the Red Sea continue to disrupt global supply chains.

Over the last three to four months, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have stepped up strikes against vessels traversing the Red Sea, which coupled with the Suez Canal constitutes part of the main maritime trade artery between Asia and Europe, via the Middle East. The route accounts for some 12% of all global trade.

As a result of Houthi actions, hundreds of ships have diverted to take the longer route around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, adding at least 4,000 nautical miles and 10 days to the journey. The Houthis have said they are targeting ships with links to supporters of Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

IMF/PortWatch logs the daily number of ships passing through the man-made Suez Canal, cutting through Egypt, as well as the total volume of trade. It sources the data through UN Global Platform.

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