Turkey’s Transport Minister tells Al Jazeera: The number of ships heading to Israel has dropped by 30% Economy

The impact of Israel's war on the world… Gaza It became increasingly clear that all balance in the region was affected, and while politics and economics were directly affected, trade and ship navigation were severely disrupted.

Türkiye is considered one of the most affected countries in the region war.

In this comprehensive conversation with Al Jazeera Network, Turkish Transport Minister Abdulkadir Olaloglu reveals how commercial transport traffic has been disrupted, the situation of ships sailing from Turkish ports to Israel and his views on Israel the opinion of. new economic corridor between India and Europe.

  • Israel's war on Gaza affects everything in the world, from economics to politics. How did the war affect commercial shipping?

The Mediterranean basin is not just a region affected by such events, it is a basin that affects the entire world trade, so global trade and prices, including Turkey, are affected by this war.

In particular, what happens when… suez canal The Red Sea exacerbates this negative impact.

  • Houthi armed forces' attacks on ships have caused major problems in the cargo transportation system. How will commercial transportation be affected?

after attack Houthis For some ships, the number of ships passing through the Suez Canal has decreased by about 10%,

The ships were forced to divert to the Cape of Good Hope, Africa's southernmost tip, meaning they had to travel an additional 3,500 miles. If a Chinese ship wants to reach the Mediterranean via the Cape of Good Hope, this will add 10 days to the time. If we also take into account fuel costs, the container price will rise from $2,500 to $3,500.

Traffic through Suez Canal reduced by 10%, costs increased

  • 90% of ships did not change course. Do we expect these events to have an impact on prices?

Of course, a large percentage of ships still pass through the Suez Canal, but this time the insurance premiums they pay have increased due to the increased risk. Therefore, transportation costs will increase.

Whether ships go around the Cape of Good Hope or through the Suez Canal, we will see an increase in costs, which will impact the price of shipping goods.

Turkish Transport Minister Abdulkader Olaloglu
Turkish Transport Minister (right) and Al Jazeera reporter (Al Jazeera)
  • Have any Turkish ships been attacked so far?

No, our ships have not been attacked by the Houthis or any other group.

  • The topic of Turkish ships heading to Israeli ports has been widely discussed. There are various numbers on this topic, but I believe the most accurate numbers come from your ministry. How many ships depart from Turkey to Israeli ports every day?

Between October 7 and December 31, 2023, 701 ships sailed from Turkish ports to Israel, equivalent to an average of 8 ships per day.

These figures are the total number of ships leaving our country heading directly to Israel, as well as the total number of ships transiting through our ports before going to Israeli ports.

From October 7 to December 31, 2023, 701 ships sailed from Turkish ports to Israel, equivalent to an average of 8 ships per day.

  • But there are reports that there are more ships heading to Israel than that?

This is impossible to mislead as the movement of ships is actually monitored by countries around the world. Nothing to hide or hide, I gave the exact number, 8 boats per day.

  • How much cargo do these ships carry from Turkey and how much cargo do they carry from transit countries?

It can be said that about a third of these are in transit, and the first point of departure for the other two thirds is Turkey, which means that since October 7, 480 ships have traveled directly from Turkey to Israel, of which 221 Ships transit from Turkey.

  • So, if we compare these numbers to the period before the October 7th War, is it an increase or a decrease?

To determine this, we need to compare these numbers to the same period last year. Overall, the number of ships visiting Israeli ports has decreased by 30% compared to last year, so that while a total of 2.8 million tons of cargo was transported then, 1.9 million tons are now being transported.

  • I believe some of these ships are also delivering cargo to a certain country Palestine. Can this be detected via separate statistics?

Unfortunately we cannot distinguish this. According to the 1967 agreement, Israel controls the entire coastal strip and ports, so our Palestinian brothers do not enjoy freedom and any goods destined for Palestine must pass through Israel. In this war environment, Palestine is small.

  • Does your department know the contents of the designated goods?

We manage the movement of ships and the contents of destination cargo are inspected directly by the Department of Trade and Customs.

  • Türkiye has provided humanitarian aid to Gaza. I think they did it by boat, right?

Yes, we have sent 3 humanitarian aid ships so far, which include many essential items, from food to medical equipment, ambulances to shelters.

The ships unloaded their cargo at the Egyptian port of El-Arish and handed it over to Egyptian authorities there. We are also ready to provide more assistance if necessary.

India corridor is a futile project, there are alternatives

  • In recent months, the G8 summit reached an understanding on a new trade route called the “India Corridor”. How do you evaluate this corridor?

In transportation, the route with the fewest diversions is preferred because too many diversions means a loss of time.

For us, this project (India Corridor) is not a painstaking project. When we meet with our interlocutors from time to time, we get confirmation of this, but we do not consider this to be a valid path. The reason is that the ship leaving India will stop in the Arabian Peninsula, then cross 4 countries by land, return to the sea at the Israeli Haifa Port, and be reloaded from there to Europe. port, and then exported to land again…that is, it is a sea and land route. – Sea – Land. Therefore, we do not believe that this multi-conversion project will be effective.

  • The Israeli port of Haifa is currently considered one of the dangerous ports due to the war. Do you think there is a security issue with the Indian corridor planning to use this port?

Ship traffic in Israeli ports has decreased, and if there is a 30% decrease in ships coming from us, it means that other countries have a similar situation. Of course there are safety issues; this shows that the corridor (Indian Corridor) is problematic on several fronts.

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “There is no corridor without Turkey.” So why not?

Türkiye is the safest country in the region. It's secure, fast, and its infrastructure is ready in many ways. If you look at the east-west axis, you will see that our country is the safest bridge to cross.

On the other hand, some countries in the region have many shortcomings in terms of security and infrastructure, which is why we do not see the possibility of this corridor without Turkey.

  • What are your alternatives to the hallway? Have you briefed the relevant countries on this situation?

We have a Pathways to Development project that we have been working on for a long time. In this project, a ship from the Asia-Pacific region will enter the Arabian Gulf and unload at the Al-Faw port in Iraq. It will then reach Turkey through Iraq via new railways and roads to be built in Iraq, and then directly to Europe via Turkey's existing road and railway network.

This is a very efficient alternative route with lower transit costs, shorter time and lower costs, and we hope that the UAE, Iran and Iraq will actively participate in this project. We are also discussing this project with other Gulf countries.

  • Can the Indian Corridor become an alternative to China’s Silk Road?

World trade is growing so fast that many alternative routes and corridors are needed and the Indian corridor is a costly and time-consuming project in terms of transportation and transhipment. Therefore, alternative lanes will be preferred.

The Pathways to Development project, on the other hand, is still in the conceptual stage. However, some progress on the project has been achieved. The UAE is currently building the Al Faw Port, part of which will be completed next year and is expected to be fully completed in 2028.

We also create infrastructure for many projects. Regardless, this project will come to fruition. Then business participants will naturally choose the most efficient and lowest-cost path.

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