Speaking of Asia

Arctic route gets a boost from Suez Canal crisis

The massive maritime traffic jam caused by Ever Given’s misadventure in the Suez Canal has highlighted the attractiveness of alternative routes via the North Pole – a shift that carries strategic and commercial implications for South-east Asia.

Experts have said that even if all greenhouse gas emissions were to end today, the Arctic Ocean would become ice-free in September by 2050. PHOTO: AFP
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The collective sigh of relief that Asian businesses heaved after the giant Japanese-owned container vessel Ever Given floated free in the Suez Canal after six days of being wedged into the side of the waterway is best explained by a single statistic: If you had needed to move Ever Given's load of 20,000 containers by plane, it would have taken 2,500 Boeing 747 freighters to do the job.

It now costs more than US$7,000 (S$9,400) to move a single container by sea from Northern Asia to Europe, which isn't cheap. Rail links are beginning to connect the continents, but are more expensive than sea freight still, which means several hundred extra dollars per container.

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