Downing Street is warning of possible delays to items bound for the UK because of the stuck ship blocking the Suez Canal.
Crews are frantically trying to dislodge the cargo carrier Ever Given – and the success or failure of the operation will have ramifications for British shoppers.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said today: ‘We are working with the authorities to assess the situation, we stand ready to provide any assistance that we can.
‘We have not been approached by any UK companies or organisations with concerns about implications for their shipping plans.
‘However, some goods destined for the UK may be delayed in transit.’
The waterway is a crucial trade route and, as an island nation with a services-base economy, the UK is heavily dependent on goods arriving at ports.
While much of Britain’s imports arrive from Europe and America – and so will be unaffected by the jam in the Suez – a large share comes from Asia through the Canal.
It is unclear at this stage the exact items that will could be delayed, but a sector-by-sector breakdown of the UK’s imports reveal which products we are most reliant on Asia, such as furniture and toys.
Here, MailOnline drills down into the numbers to assess how vulnerable Britain is to supplies coming from the East.
Efforts to free one of the world’s largest container ships which became lodged in the Suez Canal on Tuesday have resumed this morning, as experts warn it could take weeks to refloat the stranded vessel
The canal provides the shortest possible route for ships travelling between Asia and Europe, with the only alternative being to sail around the Cape of Good Hope – adding 14 days and 5,000 nautical miles to the journey
IMPORTS LIKELY AFFECTED
Seven out of the top 10 exporters of electrical goods to the UK are Asian countries.
While 47 per cent of electrical imports come from the EU, the bulk of the remaining 53 per cent are shipped from Asia.
Chinese products account for 28 per cent, while Hong Kong produces 5.4 per cent and Vietnam 5.1 per cent.
Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia are also in the top 10.
Clothing and footwear
All but two of the top 10 exporters Britain most relies on for clothing are from Asia.
Again, the EU exports the lion’s share (39 per cent) while we import a fifth from China, 9 per cent from Bangladesh and 5 per cent from India.
Vietnam, Pakistan and Sri Lanker also export clothing to the UK.
ELECTRICALS: Seven out the top 10 exporters of electrical goods to the UK are Asian countries
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR: All but two of the top 10 exporters Britain most relies on for clothing are from Asia
Almost half of the UK’s furniture imports come from Asian countries and likely shipped through the Suez Canal.
Nearly a third (31 per cent) come from China while Vietnam, India and Hong Kong are also in the top 10.
The other half is comprised of imports from the US and EU.
Sports, toys and leisure
More than half of these supplies are shipped from Asia, including 49 per cent from China – a powerhouse in toy manufacturing.
Hong Kong also accounts for 6 per cent, while the EU and US account for 30 per cent.
China is by far the largest exporter of homeware goods to Britain, accounting for 44 per cent of overall exports.
Pakistan supplies 8 per cent of our products, and India is 6 per cent.
The EU accounts for 26 per cent and the US just 3 per cent.
FURNITURE: Roughly half of the UK’s furniture imports come from Asian countries and likely shipped through the Suez Canal
SPORTS, TOYS, LEISURE: More than half of these supplies are shipped from Asia, including 49 per cent from China
HOMEWARE: China is by far the largest exporter of homeware goods to Britain, accounting for 44 per cent of overall exports
IMPORTS LIKELY UNAFFECTED
Food and drink
The UK imports the overwhelming majority of its food and drink from the Continent: 74 per cent.
The remaining supplies are drawn from an array of countries that contribute a fraction of total imports.
The Asian country the UK imports the most food and drink from is Thailand, which supplies just 1.7 per cent.
Health and beauty
Health and beauty products sold in the UK will likely have been manufactured on the Continent.
The EU accounts for 69 per cent of total imports, while Switzerland produces 11 per cent. The US also produces 11 per cent.
By contrast, China, the biggest Asian exporter of health and beauty to the UK, only supplies 2.7 per cent of total goods.
DIY and gardening
While China does supply 14 per cent of gardening equipment to the UK, this figure is eclipsed by the EU’s 61 per cent.
The US also exports 6 per cent and India 3 per cent.
FOOD AND DRINK: The UK imports the overwhelming majority of its food and drink from the Continent: 74 per cent
HEALTH AND BEAUTY: Health and beauty products sold in the UK will likely have been manufactured on the Continent
DIY & GARDENING: While China does supply 14 per cent of gardening equipment to the UK, this figure is eclipsed by the EU’s 61 per cent