Impacts of Red Sea shipping disruptions on global food security

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BY JOSEPH GLAUBER AND ABDULLAH MAMUN
JANUARY 17, 2024
OPEN ACCESS | CC-BY-4.0

The recent attacks of Yemen-based Houthi rebels on ships in the Red Sea have paralyzed shipping through the Suez Canal, forcing exporters in the Black Sea region and elsewhere to consider alternative—and more costly—shipping routes. In early January, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s second-largest container ship company, announced it would suspend shipments through the Red Sea. Trade volumes in the Suez Canal are down an estimated 40% since the attacks began.

Such choke point disruptions to global shipping, while rare, have recently cropped up in diverse locations. In March 2021, the Suez Canal was blocked for six days when the one of the world’s largest container ships, the Ever Given, became wedged in the southern portion of the canal, causing a worldwide trade disruption. More recently, drought has reduced water flows in the Panama Canal, severing limiting shipping and raising costs. Last summer and fall, droughts affected water flows in the Rhine and Mississippi Rivers, adversely affecting shipping on major inland waterways.

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