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Impact of Suez Canal shipping traffic interruption felt all the way in Montreal

Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt's Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)

The impact of the interruption of traffic on the Suez Canal in Egypt is being felt as far away as Quebec, where it will inevitably cause delays in commercial activities, according to Montreal’s Port.

An immense container ship has been wedged in the crucial shipping channel for days, leaving over 320 ships stuck behind it on both sides awaiting passage, according to canal services provider Leth agencies.

A spokeswoman for the Port of Montreal says it “certainly” expects the situation to create delays for the ships which pass through the canal before heading to Montreal via Europe.

Merchandise from Asia will be most impacted, since most goods from that continent are transported through the Suez and Panama canals, according to communications director Melanie Nadeau.

Nadeau said in an email that shipping from Asia accounts for about 25 per cent of the port’s commerce.

Products imported from Asia include clothing, electronics and construction material. On the export side, products such as grain, pulp and paper and forestry products could be affected.

“It’s not currently possible to quantify the anticipated impact of the blockage of the Suez Canal for the Port of Montreal,” Nadeau wrote in an email.

“We’re closely monitoring the situation.”

At Quebec City’s port, the situation appears less serious. The blockage is not expected to create direct impacts, at least in the short term, a spokesman said.

“On the other hand, if it extends two, three, months, it’s certain there could be impacts to a certain degree,” Frederic Lagace said.

Lagace said the difference is that Montreal deals more with containers, while Quebec City handles solid and liquid bulk, which is less impacted.

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