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How the Red Sea disruptions have effected Dry Bulk Trade

In 2023, 350 Mt (7%) of seaborne dry bulk trade passed through the Suez Canal, a record high. However, the proportion of trade transiting the Suez Canal varies significantly across dry bulk commodities.


More than 12% of seaborne grains and oilseeds trade used this route in 2023, with significant contributions coming from fronthaul shipments out of the Black Sea, including corn, soybean and wheat exports from the US East Coast (USEC) and US Gulf (USG) ports, and European grain exports. This is a markedly higher proportion than for coal and iron ore trade.



Grains and Oilseeds


About 7 Mt of grains that pass through the Red Sea every month. We see confirmed diversions of about 4.5 Mt of cargo since mid-December, up from 3.8 Mt last week. More vessels, especially those sailing from the US Gulf, are deciding to go via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Red Sea, adding between 10 and 20 days of sailing time. Notably, most vessels originating in the Black Sea are still taking the Red Sea route.


Grain prices have not particularly reacted to disruptions.


Iron Ore


Minimal impact on seaborne trade from Red Sea disruptions. It is not a major trade route; iron ore is generally carried on Capesize vessels (the clue is in the name), and alternative supplies are ample. Just under 3% (48.22 Mt) of seaborne iron ore trade used the Suez Canal/Red Sea route in 2023.



Coal


Little impact on global trade. At 105.48 Mt, seaborne coal (thermal and metallurgical) trade through the Suez Canal/Red Sea route represented 7.70% of seaborne coal shipments in 2023.


Bauxite


Globally minimal impact, potentially some impact on bauxite flows into the UAE. Almost all West Africa-China bauxite trade uses the Cape route. Only 3.61% (5.62 Mt) of seaborne bauxite trade flowed through the Suez Canal/Red Sea route in 2023.


Steel


Potential for disruption. Backhaul steel cargoes from major Asian producers into the European/Mediterranean market use the Suez Canal/Red Sea route. However, interruption/increased costs on this trade would probably be welcomed by domestic producers in major importers as levelling the playing field with cheaper mills in Asia.


A report from Kpler posted on February 15, 2024.



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