Red Sea disruption threatens Italy's economic stability - defence minister

Italy’s Defense Minister Guido Crosetto

© APA | Italy’s Defense Minister Guido Crosetto

# 01 February 2024 13:32 (UTC +04:00)

Ongoing disruption in the Red Sea threatens to destabilise Italy's economy and marginalise ports in southern Europe, Italy's defence minister said on Thursday, APA reports citing Reuters.

Attacks since mid-November on commercial vessels by Iran-aligned Houthi militants, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have disrupted international shipping, forcing some companies to suspend transit through the Red Sea and instead take a much longer, costlier journey around South Africa.

"From a geopolitical perspective, the continuing of this situation could lead to the marginalisation of ports on the Mediterranean Sea," Defence Minister Guido Crosetto told lawmakers from parliament's defence committees.

"Not only does it threaten the security of navigation but also (Italy's) economic stability".

The minister said that commercial traffic through the Suez Canal -- which he estimated to represent some 40% of Italy's total maritime trade -- had dropped by 38% by the last week of 2023. Navigation times increased by 10-12 days and costs increased almost five-fold, he added.

Crosetto said that, within the framework of the European operation in the area named Aspides, 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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