2 supply ships headed to JAXPORT were canceled due to conflict thousands of miles away

Conflict in the Middle East is having a global ripple effect in trade and shipping, as the Houthis, a group in Yemen, continue to attack ships moving through the Suez Canal, a major route for transporting goods around the world.

The impact to JAXPORT was discussed at the board meeting last month with Chief Commercial Officer Robert Peek. Peek, who has worked for JAXPORT for 29 years, talked with us about the conflict and its effect on global trade.

Seven percent of JAXPORT’s container traffic moves through the Suez Canal.

“Most of the impact really has been in a disruption to ship schedules not only in Jacksonville but around the world,” Peek said. “Most global shipping lines they want to sail on a regular schedule, so when they have to avoid the Red Sea, avoiding the Suez Canal, and go all the way around the coast of Africa — it injects uncertainty into that it injects more time in terms of days of sailing, thousands of miles of extra sailing time and transportation costs.”

To give perspective, JAXPORT averages 130 vessels a month. Two vessels that were set to arrive at JAXPORT and along the East Coast in January were canceled.

The attacks on vessels are widespread. U.S. military says the Houthis have launched missiles attacking any type of ship that is attempting to move through the Suez Canal.

For the ships that haven’t canceled, those are being rerouted. Peek discussed the alternative route ships from around the world are taking to avoid the conflict, going south around the coast of Africa, increasing sailing time to nearly two more weeks.

JAXPORT has had minimal impact because 85-percent of its business is diversified in other areas that are not impacted by the Suez Canal conflict. The port is the last container port in Florida and the third busiest port in the United States for automobiles.

However, the Houthi attacks and danger of traveling the Suez canal still have a major impact on businesses worldwide.

“If someone is waiting to receive goods, for example, and the ship is delayed, they’ve got to adjust for that. You may have a warehouse that’s waiting for inventory or a factory that’s waiting on a part so they can finish making a product so it could be an impact across many different industries from manufacturing to distribution of transportation,” Peek said.

In addition to the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal shipping route, is currently impacted due to drought and El Nino last year.

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