Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the question of who is and isn’t designated a “key worker” has been a difficult debate, with many arguing that essential services go far, far beyond those provided by doctors and nurses. Although the UK government now officially recognizes seafarers as key workers, it’s arguable that the general public has little idea of the contributions made by these workers to the ongoing maintenance of the supply chain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on global mobility – on land, at sea and in the air. The severe restrictions on human movements, changes in consumption and the economic impact of lockdowns and reduced demand due to increased unemployment or short-time working hit the global economy hard, though with greatly differing impacts on national economies. So how has the pandemic affected maritime logistics?
There’s no denying that the Suez Canal is the world’s most important waterway. The reason: about 12% of the global trade flowing through a single canal, one connecting two continents – Asia and Europe. The canal is so strategic that world powers have fought over the waterway since it was completed in 1869.
At the beginning of 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over two Million lives and continues to spread throughout the world. While the health crisis grew, the virus also infected economies and supply chains. Official statistics in developed countries such as Germany capture well the impact of lockdown measures on retail sales or disruption in global trade on national imports.
These official statistics, however, tend to be published with a time lag of several months and even longer for developing countries in the global South. To provide policymakers with more recent information on economic activity, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) published the Corona Data Monitor in 2020 using unconventional, but high-frequent data. For instance, economist Vincent Stamer contributes to the data monitor by analyzing daily API data from FleetMon. Comparing historic ship activity in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to today’s activity measures the impact of the Corona crisis on the key East Asia – Europe trade route. For more information, please visit the Corona Crisis Data Monitor on the website of the IfW Kiel.
In a recent study sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office, a project team of the Kiel Institute replicated the concept of the Data Monitor and applied it to various data sources on developing countries. To measure the impact of the pandemic on countries in the global South, the authors used data on nitrogen gas emissions, light emissions, and flight arrivals, as well as AIS data on container ships provided by FleetMon.