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Egypt's Suez Canal Fee Hike Won't Have a ‘Massive' Impact on Trade Flows

Sui Xiankai | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
  • Egypt announced on Saturday that transit fees for all types of vessels passing through the Suez Canal will be increased in 2023.
  • "The increase is inevitable and a necessity in light of the current global inflation rates," said the authority's chief, Osama Rabiee.
  • But an analyst from Mandarin Shipping told CNBC that while the rise in Suez dues will not have a massive impact on trade flows, it will fuel ongoing inflation. 

Egypt announced on Saturday that it will raise transit fees in 2023 for all types of vessels passing through the Suez Canal.

According to a statement released by the Suez Canal Authority, transit fees for tankers passing through the canal will rise by 15%. The increase for dry bulk carriers and tourist ships is 10%. The fee hikes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

"The increase is inevitable and a necessity in light of the current global inflation rates," the authority's chief, Osama Rabiee, said in the statement.

He added that the decision factored in the impact of increased energy prices.

A ship in the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on May 17, 2022. An analyst told CNBC that while the rise in Suez dues will not have a massive impact on trade flows, it will fuel ongoing inflation.
Sui Xiankai | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
A ship in the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on May 17, 2022. An analyst told CNBC that while the rise in Suez dues will not have a massive impact on trade flows, it will fuel ongoing inflation.

Over 20,600 vessels transited through the Suez Canal in 2021, according to database company Statista.

Fees may fuel inflation

An analyst told CNBC that while the rise in Suez dues won't have a "massive impact" on trade flows, it will fuel ongoing inflation. 

"Oil prices are currently dropping and so if the canal prices itself out against the competition (which is going round Africa) then the Canal Authority would lose out," said the chairman of Mandarin Shipping, Tim Huxley.

Global oil prices have had a choppy year — from skyrocketing to more than $130 per barrel after the Russian-Ukraine war broke out, to tapering to around $80-$90 per barrel in recent weeks.

The Panama-flagged ship Ever Given set sail toward the northeastern Egyptian city of Ismailia for its departure from the Suez Canal and resumption of its voyage to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, on July 7, 2021. Egypt announced on Saturday that transit fees for all types of vessels passing through the Suez Canal will be increased in 2023.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The Panama-flagged ship Ever Given set sail toward the northeastern Egyptian city of Ismailia for its departure from the Suez Canal and resumption of its voyage to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, on July 7, 2021. Egypt announced on Saturday that transit fees for all types of vessels passing through the Suez Canal will be increased in 2023.

Huxley added that the increased fees will be passed on to customers, which will in turn fuel inflation.

The U.S. reported a 8.3% year-on-year increase in consumer prices in August. Rising food and shelter costs offset a decline in gas prices.

Still a cheaper route

Another analyst said that despite the rise in fees, the Suez Canal is still a substantially cheaper route for vessels.

Ahmed Gomaa | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
A vessel on the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on Jan. 3, 2022. "The savings of sailing via the Suez Canal are still very large, particularly due to the present very high … bunker prices," said an analyst.

"The savings of sailing via the Suez Canal are still very large, particularly due to ... very high oil and bunker prices. In addition, the shipping markets are generally seeing high demand and low vessel availability. This also encourages shipowners to send vessels via the fastest routes," said Niels Rasmussen, chief shipping analyst of shipping association Bimco.

Rasmussen said that he does not expect shipowners to turn to alternative routes, such as sailing south of Africa. 

"Shipping markets are generally seeing high demand and low vessel availability. This also encourages shipowners to send vessels via the fastest routes," said Rasmussen.

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