Suez blockage threatens Vietnam trade with Europe, US

By Thuy Tien   March 29, 2021 | 12:10 am PT
The Suez Canal blockage caused by the Taiwanese container vessel Ever Given is threatening to delay some of Vietnamese’s exports and imports.
Stranded container ship Ever Given of Taiwanese firm Evergreen Marine Corporation, one of the worlds largest container ships, is seen after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt March 25, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Suez Canal Authority.

One of the world's largest container ships, Taiwanese-flagged Ever Given, is seen after it ran aground in the Suez Canal in Egypt, photo taken on March 25, 2021. Photo courtesy of Suez Canal Authority.

The longer it lasts the more losses Vietnamese seafood exporters would suffer since they are the one in charge of shipping seafood to their partners, according to Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

"Vietnam and many other countries are short of containers for exports and face surging freight rates. The Suez blockage could make freights rise even higher, putting Vietnam’s seafood export firms in difficulty," he told local media.

The blockage would temporarily increase Vietnamese exports’ transportation time to the U.S. and Europe by at least one to two weeks since ships have to go around the southern tip of Africa.

Maersk, a Danish shipping company, said it has three vessels stuck in the canal and 27 others waiting to enter, with two more expected to reach the site on March 28.

The company has decided not to wait for Ever Given to be extracted and instead redirected its vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, adding 10-14 days to their itinerary to U.S. ports.

"In Vietnam, shipping route TP17 from the Cai Mep-Thi Vai Port in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau to the U.S’s east coast, which goes through the Suez Canal, is affected," a spokesperson for a Vietnamese logistics firm said.

Multinational electronics companies in Vietnam will be affected if the blockage prolongs since it will delay imports of components.

Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of the Agency of Foreign Trade, said the impact of the blockage on Vietnam-Europe trade would depend on the time it takes to dislodge the ship.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has instructed Vietnam’s trade office in Egypt to keep it updated on the extrication of the ship.

On March 23 Ever Given ran aground in one of the world’s busiest waterways. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the ship was unable to keep a straight trajectory due to high winds and a sandstorm that reduced visibility.

In the morning of March 29, Ever Given was wrenched from the shoreline and set partially afloat again after six days in the ground, according to Inchcape, a British provider of marine services.

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