CAIRO //Suez Canal revenues dropped 21 per cent to $327.9 million (Dh1.2bn) in March, compared to $416.9 million in the same month last year, but were up from $301.8m in February, the government said on Sunday. Economists have been watching Suez Canal revenues closely to see any effects from piracy off the Somali coast. Recent reports suggest cargo operators are rerouting around the Cape of Good Hope, adding two weeks to their journey, to avoid pirates. Reduced volumes of trade between Asia and Europe as the world recession bights was also expected to affect traffic through the Suez.
The canal authority said earlier in January that it would leave unchanged its transit tolls for 2009 despite its expectations that the global financial crisis will reduce traffic. The canal is an important source of foreign currency for Egypt, along with tourism, oil and gas exports and remittances from Egyptians living abroad. The number of vessels using the waterway was 1,439 in March, down from 1,699 in March 2008 but up from 1,272 in February, the government said on its Information Portal website.