ESC webinar addressed Suez Crisis impact and maritime sector developments

23 February 2024, European Shippers’ Council convened a crucial webinar, moderated by Roman Stiftner, President of ESC, to delve into the ongoing Suez Crisis and its consequences across the maritime sector. The session provided a platform for stakeholders to engage in comprehensive discussions on the evolving landscape of maritime operations.

ESC voiced significant concerns about the profound repercussions of the Houthi attacks on global supply chains, sustainability initiatives, and international trade. The crisis has precipitated a marked reduction in shipping activity within the Red Sea, compelling vessels to undertake reroutes around the cape of Good Hope. This disruption has not only escalated costs but also heightened safety apprehensions among seafarers.

Participants underscored the imperative of adopting mitigation strategies, including the exploration of alternative routes and the enhancement of access to reliable information. Moreover, there was a unanimous call for addressing the crisis within the broader context of the international trade of the European Union to fortify competitiveness and resilience.

ESC welcomes the launch of EUNAVFOR ASPIDES, a defensive maritime security operation aimed at reinstating and safeguarding freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf. This operation aligns with international law and seeks to establish an EU naval presence in areas targeted by Houthi attacks.

Ms. Annika Kroon (European Commission) provided invaluable data on the crisis’s impact on various carrier types and stressed the solutions to security and economic uncertainties. Mr. Godfried Smit (European Shippers’ Council) articulated concerns regarding exorbitant surcharges imposed by carriers and advocated for fair market monitoring and supply chain agility. Mr. Jim Corbett (World Shipping Council) emphasised the pivotal role of renewable fuels in decarbonising shipping and advocated for global agreements to address environmental challenges. Ms. Sofia Bournou (Business Europe) emphasised the importance of coordination and concentrated efforts from the industry to effectively address the crisis.

In light of a study of the University of Rotterdam estimating a EUR 200 per TEU cost increase due to the crisis, ESC underscored the imperative of concerted efforts to reduce surcharges and mitigate potential inflationary pressures.

Again, ESC showed its pivotal role in gathering awareness around the Suez crisis and contributing to open the discussion and finding solutions.