The conflict in the Red Sea and its impact


The impact on container shipping and the container trade

The conflict in the Red Sea between the Houthi rebels and other regional players not only has a local impact, but also influences global trade, particularly in the area of container shipping between Asia and Europe.

Impact on container shipping

The Red Sea is one of the world's most important trade routes, through which a significant proportion of the global container trade passes. The conflict in the Red Sea has led to significant challenges; on the one hand, the increased risk of damage and, on the other, the need to use alternative routes. These uncertainties significantly affect container shipping and are forcing shipping companies to review their safety concepts for ships, crews and cargo or to reschedule their routes.

Impact on transportation costs and transit times

In particular, the Red Sea route, which is considered one of the main arteries for trade between Asia and Europe, has been affected by the impact of the conflict. The increased risks have led to a rise in insurance costs for cargo ships, which ultimately results in higher sea freight costs for companies using this route through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Other shipping companies have decided to divert some of their ships to Europe via the route around Africa. The changed itinerary affects both the travel time (extending the travel time by between 10-15 days) and the costs of the shipping companies. These additional costs are passed on to the shippers and ultimately have an impact on consumer prices.

Availability of containers

The uncertainties in the Red Sea also have an impact on the availability of containers. The adjustment of the itinerary and the associated extension of the voyage duration is leading to a shortage in the availability of empty containers required for loading goods. This can lead to bottlenecks and affect the supply chain, especially for companies that depend on a reliable supply chain. These disruptions also have the potential to increase prices.

Impact on the container trade sector

The increase in demand for empty containers in the supply chain has led to a sharp rise in incoming orders at Asian container factories. As a result, production capacities quickly became very tight, especially for the production window before the Chinese New Year. As a result of this development, production prices for standard sea containers have risen significantly. Alongside new orders, container shipping companies have also increasingly made use of existing transport equipment through repairs, which would otherwise have been discarded on the second-hand market. These developments are driving up prices on the markets for new and used containers.

Economic disadvantages for Europe

Europe is heavily reliant on global trade and delays or disruptions in key trade routes can cause significant economic disadvantages. Increased sea freight costs and container availability issues increase the cost of imported goods, which in turn can lead to higher consumer prices. Companies that rely on smooth supply chains face additional challenges and costs, which can ultimately affect competitiveness.


The conflict in the Red Sea has far-reaching effects on container shipping, global trade flows in general and the container trade in particular. The increased uncertainty leads to higher costs and longer delivery times, which has a direct impact on the economy in Europe. Companies need to prepare for potential disruptions in their supply chains and develop alternative strategies to minimize the impact of this conflict.

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