Egypt and the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is the manmade waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez at northern part of the Red Sea and is controlled exclusively by the government of Egypt. Since its inception in 1869 the Suez Canal has been a significant historical and maritime achievement. Not only has it become a regular throughway for cargo ships and oil tankers, but it saves about 6,000 miles of travel for those looking to use it as a cut through to avoid going around Cape Horn, the southern tip of Africa. This keeps transit times a lot faster and ocean freight rates much lower as a result. It is for this reason that the newest trouble in Egypt has become a huge concern for the United States and its oil interests as well as the shipping industry as a whole. In the past, the Egyptian government has used different ways to slow and even stop the flow of cargo through the Suez and the latest political issues in that country have made the people in the shipping industry uneasy. Most recently Egypt has allowed an Iranian warship pass through the canal, despite the United States’ request to stop it. It is said that this was a signal to say that Egypt is solely in control of the canal and no one, not even the United States, can stop them. By this, many shipping companies are taking a hard look at their international freight shipping projections and revising to accommodate a possible closure of this area. If the political unrest continues, we may all be revising our shipping routes.