The world is facing a new challenge to global trade and health, as the conflict between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition escalates in the Red Sea. The Houthis have been launching missile and drone attacks on ships passing through the Red Sea, a vital waterway for international commerce and energy. The attacks have endangered the lives of international crews, disrupted the flow of goods and oil, and increased the risk of environmental damage and marine pollution.
The Red Sea crisis is not only a regional issue, but a global one, that affects the interests and values of the United States and the world. The crisis also reminds us of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the fragility and interdependence of the global trade and health systems. The pandemic has taught us the importance of cooperation, resilience, and innovation in the face of unprecedented challenges.
The U.S. Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association (NCBFAA), which represents more than 1,200 member companies with 110,000 employees in international trade, has been applying these lessons to cope with the Red Sea crisis and to support its members and their customers. The NCBFAA has been monitoring the situation and providing guidance and resources to its members and their customers, who are responsible for facilitating the import and export of goods across borders.
The NCBFAA has urged its members and their customers to exercise caution and vigilance when shipping goods through the Red Sea, and to consider alternative routes or modes of transportation if possible. The NCBFAA has also advised its members and their customers to review their contracts, insurance policies, and contingency plans, and to communicate with their carriers, agents, and partners about the risks and challenges involved.
The NCBFAA has also called on the U.S. government and the international community to take action to protect the freedom of navigation and commerce in the Red Sea, and to prevent further escalation of the conflict. The NCBFAA has supported the efforts of the United Nations and other diplomatic actors to broker a ceasefire and a political solution to the crisis in Yemen, which has caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, with more than 20 million people in need of assistance.
The NCBFAA has also highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict, such as poverty, corruption, and sectarianism, and of promoting development, democracy, and human rights in the region. The NCBFAA has also emphasized the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases, which have worsened the already dire situation in Yemen and posed a threat to global health and security.
The NCBFAA believes that the Red Sea crisis can be resolved peacefully and constructively, with the help of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCBFAA hopes that the parties involved will find a way to end the violence and achieve a lasting peace, for the sake of the people of Yemen, the region, and the world.
COVID-19 in Numbers
- The Worldometer website provides daily and weekly updated statistics on the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries worldwide and by country. As of January 26, 2024, the website reported 702,389,765 confirmed cases, 6,973,711 deaths, and 673,251,082 recoveries globally.
- The CDC COVID Data Tracker provides data on the COVID-19 situation in the United States, including test positivity, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccinations. As of January 12, 2024, the tracker reported 110,764,868 confirmed cases, 1,193,736 deaths, and 1,186,623,953 tests in the U.S.
- The BBC website provides a covid map that shows the coronavirus cases, deaths, and vaccinations by country. The map also shows the trends and changes in the data over time. As of January 28, 2024, the map showed that the U.S., India, and Brazil had the highest number of confirmed cases, followed by France, Germany, and the UK.
The Red Sea Crisis
- The Red Sea is one of the world’s most densely packed shipping channels, with about 12% of global trade passing through it, including 30% of global container traffic .
- The Red Sea crisis began when Houthi rebels in Yemen significantly stepped up attacks on commercial shipping vessels travelling through the lower Red Sea since mid-November 2023 in response to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza .
- The Houthis are a Yemeni rebel group who control the west of the country, including its Red Sea coast. They are aligned with and supplied by Iran, but are politically independent .
- The Houthis have boarded or sought to board merchant tankers and targeted cargo ships with drones and missiles. Damage has been minimal in most cases, but in mid-November 2023, one tanker, the Galaxy Leader, was successfully hijacked .
- The Red Sea crisis has disrupted shipping, with BP halting all shipments of oil and gas through the region .
- The southern end of the Red Sea is a narrow strait of water – about 20 miles wide – between Djibouti and Yemen: the Bab el-Mandeb strait, the area that the Houthi rebels in Yemen have been targeting .
- The US has announced a maritime coalition to defend shipping against attacks .
- The Red Sea crisis has effectively closed one of the world’s most important seaways, leading to rerouting of the world’s biggest shipping companies .