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Turkey’s devastating earthquake may disturb global shipping: experts

The devastating earthquake in Turkey which has dealt a blow to the country’s port facilities is believed to have a significant impact on the Asian country and bring uncertainties to global shipping, due to the important “fortress position” that Turkey occupies, experts said.

A fire that engulfed hundreds of shipping containers at Turkey’s Iskenderun Port after the earthquake has been extinguished, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing the country’s defense ministry.

The port, located on the Mediterranean coast in the southern province of Hatay, was damaged due to the quake, and the fire has led to the shutdown of all operations at the terminal until further notice and forced freight liners to divert vessels to other ports.

As one of the two major container hubs on Turkey’s southeast coast, Iskenderun Port focuses on domestic trade, according to the Reuters report.

“Given the situation at Iskenderun, we will need to perform a change of destination for all bookings bound for the port or already on the water. We are currently planning to divert containers to nearby hubs within operational feasibility or hold at transhipment ports — including Port of Mersin and Port Said,” shipping group A.P. Moller – Maersk said in a statement.

“The earthquake will affect Turkey’s normal production and life, and the impact on Turkey’s industrial chain and supply chain may adversely impact the nation’s currency exchange rate and inflation,” Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said.

Turkey is located between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and its Bosporus Strait in the middle serves as an important waterway for global shipping. “The earthquake will undoubtedly disturb normal shipping,” Bai noted.

As for the impact on Chinese shipping to and from Europe, Wu Minghua, a veteran Chinese shipping analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the impact is limited as the port damaged in Turkey is not in a pivotal position for China-Europe shipping routes.

The traditional maritime route between China and Europe runs through the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait, the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal. This route from China to Europe usually takes 30-48 days.

Zhong Zhechao, founder of One Shipping, an international logistics service consulting company, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey, where is far away from the country’s biggest container port in Istanbul, the capital city, and there is also some distance from the second largest port — Port of Mersin.

“The natural disaster has limited impact on global shipping given the distance from major container ports and the overall cargo volume via Turkey, which is not that large,” Zhong said.

Instead, concerns are now concentrated on the secondary impact of the earthquake on Turkey itself especially its inner logistics and transport infrastructure, Zhong said.
Source: Global Times

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