The Red Sea looks like a long-term issue

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Paul Sanderson’s report

It always seemed like this was going to be a long-term issue, and the more time passed, the more the situation in the Red Sea looks like something we are going to have to get used to.

Of course, that means difficulties for pretty much everyone involved in our industry, especially in the short-term.

Even with an international defence force protecting ships, with the UK said to be sending an aircraft carrier there, the attacks on vessels transiting the Red Sea have continued.

Most shipping lines are therefore continuing to take the long route via Africa.

Having spoken to a number of exporters in our industry, they all expect February will see the biggest challenge. This is because the combination of Chinese New Year and the compounding effect of the longer journeys comes together to cause disruption to global supply chains.

If you take India for example, its director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations Ajay Shahi told Al Jazeera that roughly 95% of cargo ships from India have been rerouted around Africa.

With it taking two to three weeks longer than via the Suez Canal and Red Sea, clearly there will be an impact on vessels going back to India with recycled materials.

So, how long are we looking at? Well, maybe there is a bit of hope here.

Drewry container research unit senior manager Simon Heaney, as reported by The National said: “The consensus view is that it will be within months, rather than the full-year, and certainly not within weeks [when shipping returns to normal in the Red Sea].”

But the disruption is here for a little while yet. Again according to Drewry, on the Asia to North Europe trade route, there will be 34 cancelled sailings out of 145 scheduled ships. This is bound to have an impact on the return journeys too.

What is clear though is the resilience of the recycling industry in the UK, which keeps finding a way to keep material moving.