We recently touched on how uncertainty within global shipping may have presented an opportunity for carriers to push through GRI’s, and while we don’t want to dampen the Christmas spirit, we felt it important to highlight issues that may affect ocean freight as we move towards 2024.

Our biggest concern is the current situation on two of the major global shipping routes, where drought has been impacting the Panama Canal, and the conflict in the Middle East has led to several voyages being routed around Africa, with the most recent news that Danish shipping carrier Maesrk has paused all journeys through the Red Sea and other’s are looking to follow suit.

Severe drought at the Panama Canal has affected operations for much of this year, where the daily numbers of vessels that can pass has gradually reduced from 38 to 22.  Queues and congestion have been building in recent months and we now understand that 43 around-the-world voyages from the next few weeks have been directed away from Panama to the Suez Canal.

The Suez Canal area is another concern. Not so much the canal itself, which is operating normally, but the conflict in the Middle Eastern region. As we have reported, cargo ships have been coming under attack from drones, or in one case boarded and seized by Houthi rebels. The risk to shipping has led to around 30 voyages being rerouted around Africa so far, which adds 10-12 days to Asia-European transit times.

Neither situation look as though they will be improving shortly, so may be key disruptors in the new year. Naturally, your Westbound team will be keeping a close eye on developments and applying our solution-led approach to any eventualities.

If you have any questions regarding the above, then Westbound are here to help. So, please do not hesitate to contact us.