Red Sea unrest menaces Italy’s economic stability – minister

The ongoing disruption in the Red Sea region threatens to destabilise Italy’s economy and marginalise ports in southern Europe, Reuters reported quoting Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto as saying on Thursday.

Since mid-November, the attacks on commercial vessels by Iran-aligned Houthi militants, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have caused disruptions to international shipping, forcing some companies to halt transit through the Red Sea and instead take a much longer, costlier route around South Africa.

“From a geopolitical perspective, the continuing of this situation could lead to the marginalisation of ports on the Mediterranean Sea,” Minister Crosetto told lawmakers from parliament’s defence committees. “Not only does it threaten the security of navigation but also (Italy’s) economic stability.”

He further said commercial traffic through the Suez Canal — which he estimated to represent some 40 per cent of Italy’s total maritime trade — had fallen by 38 per cent by the last week of 2023.

Navigation times surged by 10-12 days and costs increased almost five-fold, Crosetto added.

Within the framework of the European operation in the area named Aspides, the minister said Italy was considering sending aircraft with surveillance and data collection tasks, in addition to the military vessel it will supply for 12 months.

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