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Distant Drought Leads to Rising Global Shipping Concerns; Byron Miller Explains

Distant Drought Leads to Rising Global Shipping Concerns; Byron Miller Explains


CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC
Friday, November 17th, 2023

The transportation sector has shown recent concerns regarding lower water levels in the Panama Canal. Reports note that these water levels could lead to a steep decline in shipping traffic along the Eastern Seaboard. As these conditions cause concerns, the Port of Charleston has shared an update.

Byron Miller, Chief Commercial Officer, South Carolina Ports Authority"Global trade is a vital part of our day-to-day life," explained Byron Miller, Chief Commercial Officer of the South Carolina Ports Authority. "Now they're actually entering the dry season. They had a drought even prior to the dry season. So it's something to monitor."

Local officials, as ABC News 4 reported, said they have yet to feel an impact, despite the Panama Canal limiting the number of ships traveling daily from 36 to 25. Further limiting travel, the canal is expected to reduce that number to 18 a day by February.

"Most of our business is container ships, and those container ships travel under reservations," Miller said. "So as long as they make their appointment time, they're okay to go through. Ninety-eight percent of ships traveling in and out of Charleston through the canal are moving on an appointment, and the canal is honoring those appointments."

Recent reports from the transportation sector show that lower water levels in the Panama Canal could be leading to a steep decline in shipping traffic along the Eastern Seaboard

The Panama Canal Authority noted that 40 percent of all United States container traffic travels through the canal every year, which translates into around $270 billion in cargo.

A recent port-deepening project could insulate the port from any trouble due to the drought, the Port of Charleston added. As the source explained, the Suez Canal has seen an increase in traffic and will raise its transit fees by 5–15 percent in 2024.

Despite this increase, more traffic through the Suez Canal is a good thing for the Charleston Port, Miller shared.

The Panama Canal Authority states that 40 percent of all United States container traffic travels through the canal every year, which translates into around $270 billion in cargo

"Ocean carriers and our shipper customers will look for alternative gateways, whether that's through the Suez Canal or different routings," Miller detailed. "If you look at the growth in global trade, it's been in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, which actually lines up very well for the Port of Charleston, [because] the quickest path to the United States is through the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal has an even greater draft than the Panama Canal. So, the ability to bring in larger vessels more heavily loaded through the Suez Canal is a big advantage."

We’re heading into one of the busiest times of the year, so any disruptions to the transportation sector are of utmost importance. Deli Market News will be here for the next update.

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