Under Patronage of the Italian Embassy in Cairo
Under the patronage of the Italian Embassy in Cairo, ALEXBANK and the SRM - a Center for Economic Studies based in Naples, part of Intesa Sanpaolo Group - co-hosted a webinar titled: “The Pivotal Role of the Suez Canal in the Mediterranean Sea and the Global Maritime Economy.” The webinar was organized to present the latest SRM & ALEXBANK’s joint report on the Suez Canal’s traffic and its evolution within the Mediterranean Sea and the maritime economy as a whole.
ALEXBANK and the SRM have been working together since the expansion of the canal in 2015 to analyze the actual performance of one of the world’s most important waterways and its prospects. This co-operation has resulted in publishing three comprehensive reports in this regard and the latest one is focusing on the Canal’s performance post COVID-19 and the magnitude and impact of the ongoing developments in the Canal’s Economic Zone.
The webinar was held in the presence of H.E. Giampaolo Cantini, the Italian Ambassador to Egypt, Admiral Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Rear Admiral Reda Ismail, Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr. Dante Campioni Managing Director & CEO of ALEXBANK, along with, Engineer Yehia Zaki, Chairman of the Suez Canal Economic Zone, Dr. Ziad Bahaa El-Din, Non-executive Chairman of ALEXBANK and Mr. Zeno D’Agostino, Vice President European Sea Ports Organization, who, through their distinctive knowledge and experience, alimented a round table discussing “Egyptian Maritime Economy: A Vital Economy with Accelerating Growth”.
H.E. Giampaolo Cantini, the Italian Ambassador to Egypt, stated that “The Suez Canal is a strategic hub for Italy. Thanks to its geographic location, Italy is the natural gateway to Europe for Asian goods. In fact, as mentioned in the report, 40% of all the goods that arrive to Italy by ship transit through the Suez Canal. In 2020, this amounted to a total value of €82.8 billion.”
During his presence in the webinar, Admiral Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said “With support from the political leadership for a better future, the Suez Canal Authority launched a comprehensive program for expanding and deepening the southern part of the Suez Canal with 30 kilometers long-starting from the 132nd to the 162nd kilometers. Additionally, the canal routes will be doubled with 10 kilometers long in the Small Bitter Lakes area, improving maritime transport by decreasing the passage time while increasing the rate of passing ships to 6 per day.”
Admiral Rabie added “This project will be carried out depending on the capabilities of the Suez Canal Authority, including giant dredgers, naval auxiliary units and logistics. A subsidiary of the Suez Canal Authority challenge “Tahady”, which specializes in maritime dredging, will be participating in this project as well, which emphasizes Egypt’s keenness on developing the canal according to the global maritime trends, by providing all the requirements needed to maintain and grow the Suez Canal contribution to the global trade at its highest rates.”
Mr. Massimo Deandreis, General Manager of SRM, Mr. Alessandro Panaro Head of Maritime Department at SRM, and Mr. Samer Halim Head of Research Office at ALEXBANK, presented an overview of the report highlighting the new centrality of the Mediterranean, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on maritime & global trades, and key industrial and infrastructural investments in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.
Mr. Dante Campioni, Managing Director & CEO of ALEXBANK, commented “As we publish our third report on the Suez Canal in partnership with SRM, we reaffirm ALEXBANK and Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s commitment towards Egypt’s economic development, to which the Suez Canal and the Suez Canal Economic Zone already are and further can contribute substantially.”
Mr. Massimo Deandreis, General Manager of SRM, stated: “Even during the pandemic peak, when a consistent part of world trade plummeted, the Suez Canal showed to be resilient with only a minimal decrease of -0.3% in terms of numbers of ships and -3% in terms of traffic tonnage. As the case of the incident of the Ever Given ship clearly demonstrated, this passage has become (especially after the enlargement in 2015) one of the most strategic points in the world, accounting for 12% of global traffic. At the same time, this area, thanks also to the positive evolution of the Free Zone Area and Port Said, is now becoming emblematic of the growing centrality of the Mediterranean in the World maritime routes and trade.”
He added that “These are the reason why, together with ALEXBANK, we are constantly monitoring the Suez Canal and we regularly prepare reports like the one we are now presenting. We strongly believe that this area will remain crucial for next decades and its improvement and development will be essential to foster maritime traffic and ports efficiency in all the Mediterranean area.”
Rear Admiral Reda Ismail, Deputy Minister of Transport, highlighted the importance of the successful partnership with Italy in various aspects of maritime economy, where both parties were keen to develop maritime relations and work together under the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also presented an overview of the actions taken regarding the Egyptian maritime sector to counter the repercussions of the pandemic, guarantee the continuation of maritime trade, and the Ministry’s interest in the third report by ALEXBANK and SRM around one of the world most important passages, as part of the Egyptian government efforts towards developing the Egyptian maritime system, and maintain fruitful collaboration between the two countries.
It’s worth mentioning that ALEXBANK released the first edition of its reports on the Suez Canal in 2015 to analyze the impact of the doubling of the Canal on Mediterranean trade. Later in 2018, ALEXBANK published the second report which focused in particular on the effects of China's Belt & Road Initiative and investments in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, one of the most important economic zones in the MENA region. The new report is now available on ALEXBANK’s and SRM websites.