Lloyd’s List Reports Shipping Trailing Off at Jordan’s Port of Aqaba With AM-Gulf Rdp Bjt
LONDON (AP) _ Traffic is thinning at the Jordanian port of Aqaba, Iraq’s main outlet to the world, according to shipping intelligence reported Thursday.
Insurance rates, meanwhile, have risen for Persian Gulf and Red Sea shipping because of the crisis in the region.
The Lloyd’s List International newspaper said Iraq’s fleet of 80 tankers and cargo ships has stopped regular trading.
With the United States pressing Jordan to join the international embargo by closing Aqaba to Iraqi cargo, shipping owners said traffic into the Red Sea port and the gulf will continue declining as costs and physical risks increase.
The United Nations ordered the sanctions after Iraq announced the annexation of neighboring Kuwait on Aug 8. Jordan, Iraq’s main Arab ally, has not committed itself to the embargo.
President Bush has threatened to block Aqaba to Iraqi trade if Iraq continues getting supplies from Jordan. He met Thursday in Maine with Jordan’s King Hussein.
John Prescott, a shipping correspondent for Lloyd’s List International, said latest information was that there was no shipping in Kuwaiti or Iraqi ports and that Aqaba activity was trailing off.
Aqaba-bound ships loaded with cargo before the crisis began are obliged to deliver it unless a warship bars their way, said Peter Tudball, vice chairman of the Baltic Exchange, the international organization that matches ship owners with freight movers.
Ship owners have refused cargo destined for Aqaba since Iraq’s Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, he said.
There are usually 20 to 30 sizable ships in Aqaba on any given day. But ″There certainly wouldn’t be anyone, at the moment, willing to take any cargo into Aqaba,″ he said.
″All ship owners will be wary... they don’t want an Exocet missile through their ships. That limits their trading possibilities in the future.″
Another reason is cost. Marine underwriters at the Lloyd’s of London insurance market have suggested insurers charge an additional 1 percent of total insured value on ships going into the Arabian Gulf Coast.
Lloyd’s does not give money figures. Tudball gave an example, saying operators of a supertanker worth $80 million would be charged an extra $800,000 for up to seven days in the crisis zone.
Leading shipping firms have added a $200 surcharge for each container on ships going to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, said Jeff Barlax, a spokesman for P and O Containers, Ltd., a British shipping concern that is part of the Trio consortium of European, Japanese and U.S. lines.
Barlax said surcharges are being considered for ships going to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf.
Tudball thinks few ships will break sanctions and risk losing their insurance. ″In life you always do get pirates, and if the right money is there, ships will go in. But they will be very few and far between,″ he said.
The stoppage in Iraqi shipping was ″an indication that the moves to isolate the country commercially are starting to take effect,″ Lloyd’s List International reported.
The newspaper said there was no record of three-quarters of the Iraqi fleet entering port since Aug. 2.
″The Iraqi fleet, especially its 20 tankers, will find it difficult to pick up cargo while the crisis continues,″ Lloyd’s List said, ″and it is likely that without the prospect of receiving cargoes, the Iraqis have decided it is pointless to send their ships into ‘unfriendly’ ports.″
It said Iraq’s isolation would be a problem for its ships, which depend on foreign repair facilities.