Suez Canal revenue up 4% despite slowing trade

Revenue from Egypt’s Suez Canal was up 4% for the seven months to August 6 compared to the corresponding period despite slowing global trade, the authority responsible for the 72km waterway says.

Speaking at a celebration to mark the one-year anniversary of the $8bn expansion of the canal on Saturday, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Mohab Mameesh said revenue reached $3.183bn for the period between January1-August 6, up from $3.059bn.

The SCA stopped releasing data on revenues, reported in US dollars, in March, when the waterway’s income slowed for the third consecutive month to $396.4m from $401.4m in February and from $411.8m in January, the Egyptian daily Ahram reported.

That has made comparisons difficult although Mameesh refuted claims revenues had fallen following the devaluation of the Egyptian pound by the country’s central bank in March.

“The revenue was supposed to be affected by the 14 percent drop in global trade volume from 2014 to 2016, but the new canal helps us to avoid that,” Mameesh said, noting the 4% US dollar growth.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who attended Saturday’s anniversary, inaugurated the widened Suez Canal last year, a project designed to double daily traffic and increase annual revenue to more than $13bn by 2023.

The Suez Canal is one of Egypt’s main sources of foreign currency in a country struggling to resuscitate its economy since a 2011 uprising scared away other key revenue sources, tourists and foreign investors.

Seatrade Maritime News has reported two financial sweeteners issued by the SCA within the last six weeks, both designed to drum up business for VLCC’s tempted to sail the long way around Cape Horn to avoid the canal’s tolls.

Al-Sisi reportedly slammed “doubters” in his anniversary speech, insisting the project has been a success.

“Every achievement is met with doubt,” Al-Sisi said, adding that “doubters” seek to “turn the Egyptians’ will and hope into frustration and despair.”

Four new logistics tunnels, each reportedly 5km long, crossing the canal are under construction as part of the mega-project which includes plans for an industrial hub and supply and logistics centre.

Annual canal revenue for 2015 showed a decline to $5.175bn in 2015 from $5.465bn in the previous year, data from the SCA revealed.



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