Houthi Attacks on Red Sea Disrupt European Trade: The UK Strikes Back

In response to Israel’s war on Gaza, Iran-backed Houthi forces have been targeting Israeli-affiliated shipping vessels passing the Red Sea– disrupting the shortest trade route between Europe and Asia. As a result, goods to and from China have taken detours costing 35 percent more than it would if sailing through the Red Sea. These detours have caused trade volumes across the Red Sea region to fall by 78 percent, which has led to a 10 percent decrease in all goods shipped worldwide.  

Amongst other states, the UK was greatly affected by the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) indicated that costs will continue to rise if the situation persists. More than half of UK exporters have been negatively impacted by Houthi attacks on their cargo ships– causing cash flow difficulties and product shortages. The BCC believes that these added costs are expected to contribute to rising prices in the UK economy as a whole. Representing over 50 thousand businesses, the BCC seeks further assistance from the government for UK exporters under this condition.

In the Red Sea ship attacks, the UK and US have started missile strikes against Houthi sites in Yemen. The UK and the US have bombed 18 Houthi sites, including their underground weapons, air defense systems, missile storage, radars, and helicopters. The UK Defense Secretary, Grant Shapps, has since announced the fourth wave of strikes by the Royal Air Force against remaining Houthi targets in Yemen. He emphasized the importance of “disrupting and degrading” the capabilities that Houthis hold in threatening global trade. 

Author: Rafa Ammaara

Sources:

Al Jazeera, “Half of UK exporters say Houthi attacks in Red Sea disrupting business.” Al Jazeera Media Network. 26 February 2024. https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2024/2/26/half-of-uk-exporters-say-houthi-attacks-in-red-sea-disrupting-business 

Butler, Sarah. “More than half of UK exporters affected by Houthi disruption, survey shows.” The Guardian. 25 February 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2024/feb/25/more-than-half-of-uk-retailers-affected-by-houthi-disruption-survey-shows 

Clinton, Jane. “US and UK launch missile strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen.” The Guardian. 25 February 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/24/us-uk-strikes-houthi-targets-yemen 

Duggal, Hanna and Mohammed Haddad. “Mapping the Red Sea attacks.” Al Jazeera, Accessed 25 February 2024. https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2024/mapping-red-sea-shipping-attacks/ 

Hooker, Lucy. “Red Sea attacks delaying goods and pushing up costs, firms say.” BBC News. 27 February 2024. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-68398413 

Kiel Institute, “Freight Volume in the Red Sea Continues to Decline, Fewer Ships in Hamburg,” Kiel Institute for the World Economy, 7 February 2024. https://www.ifw-kiel.de/publications/news/freight-volume-in-the-red-sea-continues-to-decline-fewer-ships-in-hamburg/