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The Suez Canal Was Blocked For Under A Week — Here's How That Will Affect The World


The big ship stuck in the Suez Canal has been unstuck. The ship, called the Ever Given, is no longer blocking 10% of global shipping traffic. As NPR's Camila Domonoske reports, the snarls created by this snafu will take a while to untangle.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: On either side of the Suez Canal, huge ships have been piling up full of coal and oil and even livestock.

JIM MITCHELL: I can tell you that a set of glasses that I'm waiting for is on there. It's being delayed.

DOMONOSKE: Jim Mitchell got a notification from Amazon, and - well, he's with the trading data company Refinitiv. He crunched the numbers and figured it out. It's impossible to know everything that's in those shipping containers, but companies have confirmed IKEA furniture, treadmills, tea. Some delays are just inconvenient, but others have ripple effects far beyond the Suez. Auto plants might start missing essential parts.

LALEH KHALILI: Because some of these parts are produced in China and in Southeast Asia. And, of course, now they're sitting on these ships.

DOMONOSKE: Laleh Khalili is a professor at Queen Mary University of London. And the Suez blockade is just the latest in a series of shipping disruptions. Pervinder Johar is the CEO of Blume Global, a supply chain startup.

PERVINDER JOHAR: First we had the trade wars and the tariffs. Then we have had all the COVID-related disruptions.

DOMONOSKE: Lots of experts are debating whether companies should start sourcing materials from nearby or stockpile lots of extra parts. That could be expensive but would make companies less vulnerable when things go sideways.

Camila Domonoske, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.