Leaders explain impact of Suez Canal blockage on Maryland, price of goods

Posted on April 1, 2021

One of the largest cargo ships in the world is now back on course after being stuck in the Suez Canal.

The Ever Given was grounded for more than a week, blocking one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, so how will the whole ordeal impact things at the Port of Baltimore?

The Port of Baltimore is about 80% done with its dredging operations that would make it able to receive the world’s largest ships, like the Ever Given.

Nevertheless, the impacts are being felt in Baltimore, as a number of ships going to and from Asia have been in holding patterns for days.

What does that mean for consumers: It could mean a short-term spike in prices for some goods.

It was last Tuesday when the Ever Given brought a significant amount of the world’s trade to a halt to the tune of $9 billion a day.

The 1,400-foot cargo ship was stuck in the Suez Canal. On Monday, it was finally freed after an all-out effort by canal authorities.

“We could see delays anywhere between five, seven, 10 days depending upon how quickly this moves. My understanding is that commerce and cargo is moving as we speak right now,” said William “Bill” Doyle, executive director of Maryland Port Administration.

Doyle told 11 News there are several ships either bound for Baltimore or Asia that have been impacted.

“We have ships that are heading north from the Red Sea into the Suez Canal that are now at anchor. We have three ships within the canal that were stuck as a result of the grounding and we have another four vessels that are above the Anchorage that will be heading to Asia,” Doyle said.

So, how does that affect the consumers?

There have been several reports that the delayed shipping could affect everything from lawn equipment to coffee, even toilet paper, something that was a real issue at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the Suez Canal can’t operate, can’t function normally, that very much affects the flow of goods into North America, including into Baltimore,” said Sage Police Group CEO and economist Anirban Basu.

Basu told 11 News consumers might see a short-term increase in prices of some goods, but overall, the supply chain should return to normal.

“I don’t expect to see the kinds of shortages that we saw earlier in the pandemic and global supply chains were really under pressure goods couldn’t be produced at all in many cases let alone shipped,” Basu said.

WBAL-TV 11 News was told new cranes will be delivered soon to help unload those larger ships and the port administration has expanded the comment period for the expansion of the Howard Street tunnel, which is expected to break ground in September.

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