Global shipping's chokepoints

Global shipping's chokepoints
Geopolitical tensions around the world are spilling over to affect oil and maritime traffic transport choke points. / bne IntelliNews
By Katharina Buchholz for Statista January 4, 2024

With more and more shipping companies extending full or partial closures of Red Sea shipping routes due to attacks by Yemeni rebels, global trade could be seriously affected, reports Statista.

According to a new analysis based on 2019 data published in academic journal Communications in Transportation Research, 22-23% of maritime-traded goods between non-neighbouring countries pass through the Red Sea, more specifically its chokepoints Bab-el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal. Other estimates even put the share of seaborne cargo passing through the area as high as 30%.

The passage is also an important chokepoint for oil shipments - not as significant as the Straight of Hormuz or the Straight of Malacca - but still important. As a result of the situation, the global oil price has already shown volatility. The Red Sea is also an important transit point for global food and fertilizer shipments, a type of commodity trade already thrown into disarray by the war in Ukraine as well as subsequent blockades of Black Sea shipping routes. According to Chatham House, Bab-el-Mandeb saw the transit of almost 20% of global rice and almost 15% of global wheat exports previous to the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis. It is also important for fertilizer shipments.

The biggest chokepoints of global trade (by weight) are cantered around China due to the country's export prowess. An estimated 80% of goods traded globally are transported via sea routes. Calculating by value instead of weight, this number is still 70%.


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