Suez Canal - A cause of global concern - Daily Current Affair Article

Why in News?

The Suez Canal, which was closed on 23 March 2021, has been made operational again. The whole world including India has been affected by this incident.


  • The Ever-given ship, operated by the Evergreen Company of Taiwan, which left China for Rotterdam (Netherlands), landed in the Suez Canal near Port Toafik on 23 March 2021, ceasing transportation on the route.
  • Due to this incident, the entire world including India suffered business losses. The ship, which was about 400 meters in length, was hit by both the banks of the Suez Canal after being affected by very strong airflow. After about 1 week of hard work, the ship has been discharged, but this incident has given rise to many questions.

About the Ship ‘Ever Given’

  • It was formed in 2018.
  • It is operated by the Evergreen Marine Company of Taiwan.
  • It is about 400 meters long.
  • The ship is operated by an Indian crew of 25 members.

About Suez Canal

  • The Suez Canal was built in 1869.
  • This canal was nationalized by Egypt in 1956 and has since been ruled by Egypt.
  • In 2015, a 2-lane waterway was constructed on the northern side of this canal, but the southern part still operates from the single-lane waterway.
  • This canal is about 193 km long.
  • This canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, dividing Africa and Asia through the Isthmus of Suez.

Suez Canal: From the construction to the present: -

  • After industrialization, there was competition for colonies in countries like Britain and France. All the imperialist countries got involved in efforts to conquer and control their colonies.
  • An American historian Alfred T. Mahan gave a theory in which he said that the maritime power of a country will affect the control of that country and he described the Indian Ocean as the key to all the oceans.

Britain and France were colonized at that time in South and Southeast Asia. There were two routes to get from these countries to South Asia.

  1. 1-way route Here the Ottoman Empire was the crisis of Russia and Afghanistan.
  2. Crossing the continent of Africa was the route to come through the Cape of Good Hope, but this route was suffering from pirates and it took more time to get from here.

In this situation, the construction of the Suez Canal was required.

  • In 1858, Ferdinand de Lesseps formed the Suez Canal Company for the express purpose of building the canal. It had shares in France, Turkey, and Egypt and later the shares of this company were bought by Britain. Construction of this canal started in 1859 and this canal was leased to the Suez Canal Company for 99 years.
  • Shipping started from here for the first time in 1869.
  • According to an international treaty in 1888 AD, this canal was allowed equal free transport for ships of all nations in both times of war and peace. According to this agreement, no one could keep an army.
  • The British violated the treaty in 1904 and placed armies here and allowed the movement of ships of the same nations which were not at war.
  • In 1947, it was decided between the Suez Canal Company and the Government of Egypt that it would take ownership of the Government of Egypt in 1968 when the 99-year lease with the company was completed.
  • In 1954, another agreement was reached between Britain and Egypt, according to which the British government agreed to withdraw its army from the canal with some conditions.
  • In 1956 Egypt nationalized this canal before its lease was completed. This is known as the Suez Crisis.
  • In 1957, this canal remained closed for 1 year due to the Battle of Britain-France-Israel and Egypt.
  • This canal remained closed for 8 years even during the wars of Israel and Egypt in 1967.
  • After this, this canal was not closed due to political reasons. In 2017, a Japanese container was stranded here due to technical reasons, which was operated within a few hours.

Importance of Suez Canal

  • About 12% of the world's trade takes place from here.
  • According to the Suez Canal Authority, around 19000 ships (on average 52 ships per day) have sailed from here in 2020.
  • The eighth part of the entire commodity trade of the world goes through here.
  • It is an important source of Egypt's income.
  • Any crisis occurring here affects the business of Asia, Europe, and America.

Global impact of this event

  • Around 350 ships were halted in 7 days.
  • India, China, Singapore, South Korea, Europe, and America have been impacted by trade with no other effective route other than the Suez Canal for trade between Asia and Europe.
  • Supply of flowers, fruits, agricultural commodities has been damaged due to supply chain halt.
  • 3% reduction in the global price of Brunt Oil has been observed.
  • India's crude oil imports and petroleum products exports have been affected.
  • India's trade in agricultural and marine commodities was also affected.
  • The insurance industry all over the world including India had to pay compensation.
  • The price of oil in Europe may increase for some time.
  • During this time many ships chose the route to cross the continent of Africa and had to bear the extra expense of about $ 26000 per day of fuel which would increase the price of goods.
  • Efforts made to remove the ship
  • Mud and sand were removed from there.
  • The ship was towed with the help of 14 tugboats.
  • At the same time, a high tide in the region helped to buoy the ship.
  • Now this ship will be stopped at Great Bitter Lake and inspected.

Efforts made by India to diagnose the effects of this crisis

The 4 point program was implemented in a joint meeting of ADG (Shipping), Ministry of Ports and Waterways, FIEO (Federation of Indian Export Organizations), CSLA under the chairmanship of Secretary, Logistic Sector, Department of Commerce, and Government of India. The main points of which were the following -

  1. Attempting to stabilize the rate of freight
  2. FIEO, MPEDA (Marine Products Export Development Authority), and APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) will separate the perishable and non-perishable items.
  3. After the end of the blockages, capacity will be developed in many ports (Mundra, Hazira), where there is a possibility of increasing pressure.
  4. New routes will be discovered.

The conclusion

Although this crisis ended in one week and the effects of this crisis will also be balanced in a few days, but this crisis has given rise to many fundamental questions, which need the attention of the entire world. The continuous increase in the size of ships due to increased capacity has shown the need to increase the capacity of the Suez Canal. Just as the two-lane waterway has been constructed in the northern part of Suez in 2015, the southern part also needs to be developed. Along with this, it has become necessary to search for other trade routes.

General Studies Papers 1, 2 and 3
  • World History, Geography, International Relations, Economy
  • History of the world will include events from the 18th century such as the Industrial Revolution, World wars, Re-drawal of national boundaries, Colonization, Decolonization,
  • Important Geophysical phenomena such as Earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclones, etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including Water bodies and Ice-caps) and flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groups and agreements related to India and/or affecting India's interests.
  • Storage, transport, and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

Mains Question:-

  • The Suez Canal is being exploited more than its geographic potential due to the increased profit maximization in the growing global trade. Will the entire world now have to need an alternative to the Suez Canal? Examine.