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The Suez Canal is the linchpin in the world’s trade network

Quartz – “Right now, the Ever Given—a container ship about 1,300 feet long, which is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall—is lodged sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal, where it is blocking all other ships from passing. Efforts are underway to remove it, but they’re moving slowly. It could take days to straighten out the ship, which was blown off its course by strong winds, and more time to repair damage to the canal. The situation is a giant headache, given that Suez is the node in the global shipping network with the greatest effect on world trade. An estimated $400 million worth of goods flow through the canal each hour. In a study last year, economists examined the importance of various hubs facilitating trade between various destinations.  Of them, “Egypt is the most important in terms of being pivotal and being able to affect global welfare when there’s changes to how easy it is to go through this particular node,” says Woan Foong Wong, an assistant professor of economics at University of Oregon and one of the authors of the study…About 80% of the volume of international trade is transported by sea, according to the United Nations. The “very purpose of the canal is to shorten transportation routes for global supply chains,” says Yemisi Bolumole, an associate professor of supply-chain management at Michigan State University. It allows ships to save thousands of miles in their journeys, making it one of the most trafficked shipping lanes in the world. About 12% of the world’s trade volume makes its way through Suez…”

Washington Post – Ship stuck in Suez Canal is freed: “An international effort to free the giant cargo carrier had been underway since Tuesday, when the vessel ran aground and blocked a waterway through which 13 percent of all global trade passes…”

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