On the 23rd of March the heavy container ship ‘The Ever Given’ ran aground along the Suez canal, the size of the ship was so great that it blocked up the entire canal and it has taken days for the ship to be even partially refloated. As of now there are 367 other ships waiting to get through the canal.

With so many ships transporting such vast quantities of goods one wouldn’t be amiss to wonder what the actual cost of such a colossal blunder has been; the cost of delayed trade amounts to £7 billion a day while the canal is losing £10.9 million a day thanks to the blunder, this means that in total over £56 billion has been lost over this debacle. Such extraordinary loss of capital over such a simple mistake has not gone unnoticed by the world and while a great deal of concern surrounds the issue there has also been a healthy amount of mockery at how the world’s economy can be so easily brought to a jittering standstill, one of my favourite examples of this is an online petition to add another boat to the canal. However might this incident demonstrate to us a greater problem with modern logistics.

Despite the fact that we most likely see the effects of the delays for weeks, the combination of both brexit and this huge delay in international shipping might mean that we may face shortages in consumer goods as the delay has seen ships carrying goods from companies such as Ikea, Amazon and Ebay all held up. To add to these delays a number of ships seeing the Suez delay have simply decided to take the long route around the Cape in order to get to Asia which will no doubt bring up a whole new series of delays. I mention the delays caused by ships heading around the cape due to the fact that a total of 12% of world trade flows through the Suez canal and the fact that going around it can cause delays in and of itself shows that really there is no viable alternative to squeezing super-heavy ships through a tight corridor.

Furthermore a total of 6% of global trade goes through the similarly small Panama canal and across the globe canals are used on a national level to transport smaller yet still vital quantities of goods. Our rush to make trade faster, to get things quicker has led to a glaring oversight on what happens when some unforeseen accident causes a delay and all of international trade gets held up a day or two. Ultimately it will take weeks for us to see the full scope of the damage caused by this delay as more ships make it through the canal and we inevitably see a high degree of congestion at major ports contributing once more to oncoming shortages.