Egyptian authorities are discussing plans to expand the
country’s merchant marine to support the country’s supply chain operations.
Egypt joins other developing nations that have been hard hit over the past two
years by the disruptions in the global supply chain that are now seeking to
develop domestic shipping operations.
Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir told reporters during a
briefing on May 11 that Egypt would seek to more than triple the number of
domestic-flag cargo ships in its shipping operations. The country’s merchant
fleet currently numbers just 118 ships of which 35 are large cargo ships. The
Ministry of Transport shows figures on its website saying in 2021 that the
country’s merchant fleet handled a total of 163 million tons of cargo including
7.3 million TEU. The news outlet Egypt Today reports that the minister said
during his briefing that there are currently just five shipping companies
working in Egypt of which only two are Arab Egyptians.
The plan calls for raising the cargo fleet to 150 vessels.
One of the areas that they have also been discussing is creating a fleet of
Egyptian-flagged bulk carriers. al-Wazir said the ministry would be undertaking
a feasibility study while also seeking to attract more investors to the
maritime sector. He is also looking to form closer working relationships with
the Suez Canal Authority. Their efforts are in response to directives from
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi who has directed them to create an
Egyptian fleet for transporting imports and exports.
The minister recently met with the Chairman of the Suez
Canal Authority Osama Rabie and toured the facilities at the Suez Shipbuilding
Company. They highlighted the opportunity to expand the operations of the shipyard
which currently maintains ships for the Canal Authority as well as commercial
work for small to mid-sized vessels. They pointed out that the shipyard has one
of the largest floating dry docks in the Middle East. It has a length of 990 feet and a lifting
capacity of 55,000 tons. The yard’s second dry dock has a length of 460 feet
with a lifting capacity of 8,000 tons. The Canal Authority through partnerships
with international companies is looking to expand its activity in commercial
shipbuilding and repair, which could be used to support the Egyptian merchant
Other developing nations have discussed similar plans to
expand or modernize their domestic shipping operations. Vietnam recently
published a study calling for investments of upwards of $1.5 billion to develop
a modern fleet of containerships with a total of 25 ships over the next five
years each with a capacity between 1,800 and 5,500 TEU. The fleet would be used
to build intra-Asian shipping routes later expanded to include the Middle East.
In the second phase, they call for larger vessels to provide global services
including to North America and Europe.
The government of Thailand in September 2021 also said it
was moving forward to re-establish its domestic shipping industry. Their plan
called for working with an unnamed private company to charter ships and start
service in June 2022 on domestic routes. The first service would be on the Gulf
of Thailand transporting goods between Bangkok and industrial centers on the
eastern coast and southeast. Longer-term they too were exploring developing