NGFA urges global unification on maritime safety in the Red Sea admin February 9, 2024

NGFA urges global unification on maritime safety in the Red Sea

The NGFA signed an open letter calling on countries to align with a mission to support safe maritime commerce in the Red Sea, where terrorist attacks have caused more than $80 billion in cargo to be diverted around the Cape of Good Hope.

More than 100 organizations whose members depend on safe and secure ocean shipping routes signed the Feb. 8 letter to encourage global participation in initiatives such as Operation Prosperity Guardian, a multinational security initiative with at least 23 participating countries.

The Red Sea moves 30 percent of the world’s trade, including food, energy, clothing, shoes, electronics, and medicine. Traveling around the Cape of Good Hope, where attacks have been increasing in frequency, adds at least 2-3 weeks of travel and hundreds of thousands in additional fuel and labor costs compared to traveling through the Suez Canal. 

“Route changes are causing port congestion, equipment shortages, and soaring shipping rates across the globe, all of which create inflationary impacts,” the letter states. “Even shipping lanes on the other side of the world from the Red Sea are beginning to be adversely affected.”

These route changes cause incalculable ripple effects for agriculture and other industries that depend on maritime commerce, the letter notes, especially because global transportation is already strained from reduced access to the drought-ridden Panama Canal. 

“It is imperative that governments unite behind a zero-tolerance approach to deter attacks on commercial vessels and seafarers in the Red Sea, and anywhere in the world,” states the letter. “This is truly a global problem that demands the participation and support of all nations that rely on global trade.”

Read more about the ripple effects of shipping lane disruptions on U.S. agriculture in this article by Sandro Steinbach, Yasin Yildirim, and Xiting Zhuang from farmdoc daily.