Egyptians Race to Expand Suez Canal
World Economy

Egyptians Race to Expand Suez Canal

Bulldozers push earth and dredgers spit mud round the clock at Egypt’s Suez Canal in a race to quickly expand the strategic waterway for two-way traffic, a project trumpeted by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to revive both the country’s damaged economy and visions of nationalist glory, Yahoo reported.
While the government’s goal of more than doubling annual canal revenues to some $13 billion in less than a decade appears overly ambitious, shippers and analysts say the reduction of waiting time to almost nothing will draw some vessels. Any major increase, however, depends on something unlikely to happen soon – a large jump in European demand fueling greater shipping from Asia.
“It all depends on the trade volume between East and West, not the capacity of the canal,” said Xu Zhibin, managing director for the Egyptian affiliate of China’s state-owned COSCO, one of the world’s top container shippers. “Volume will rise if the European economy begins to boom ... As of now, I don’t think that there will be an increase in volume.”
The expansion’s importance is more long term, as it will better position the canal to keep its prominence in the future. In the short term, it appears to be more of a prestige exercise to boost national pride.
Egypt’s economy has been battered since the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The military is directing the work, which involves digging a new waterway running for 35 kilometers (22 miles) parallel to the canal to end in the Red Sea, while deepening and expanding existing bypasses. Authorities say it is on track to open in August.


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