Red Sea Disruptions, $80 Billion Cargo Diversion


Recent disruptions in the Red Sea, primarily caused by Houthi attacks on merchant ships, have led to over $80 billion in cargo diversion. This has necessitated extensive logistics efforts to ensure the timely arrival of goods at their intended destinations. The instability in the region, compounded by attacks and ongoing conflicts, underscores the fragility of the post-pandemic supply chain, says an article published on freight waves news website.


  • Red Sea disruptions due to Houthi attacks on merchant ships cause over $80 billion in cargo diversion
  • Lunar New Year in China leads to significant migration and factory closures, disrupting global supply chains annually
  • Panama Canal drought results in unpredictable trade route disruptions, potentially costing billions in economic losses
  • Impending strike by the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) threatens East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, impacting supply chains
  • Geopolitical tensions, including the U.S. presidential election and conflicts worldwide, pose additional risks to supply chains

Lunar New Year, Annual Source Of Disruption

The Lunar New Year, particularly in China, presents a consistent yet significant disruption to global supply chains. The holiday results in massive migration and a halt in factory operations, leading to delays in production and shipping that can extend for weeks. The scale of China’s role in the global economy amplifies the impact of this annual event beyond typical holiday slowdowns.

Panama Canal Drought, Unpredictable Routing Challenges

Extreme drought conditions at the Panama Canal have resulted in unpredictable disruptions to global trade routes. Recent historic droughts have forced authorities to reduce traffic significantly, potentially costing billions of dollars in economic losses. These challenges, combined with disruptions elsewhere in the supply chain, exacerbate the strain on global logistics networks.

Impending ILA Strike, Labor Disputes

The possibility of a strike by the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) threatens to further disrupt supply chains in 2024. With over 70,000 dockworkers potentially striking over pay and automation concerns, the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports could face significant disruptions. The timing of the strike, just before the U.S. presidential election, adds another layer of uncertainty to the situation.

Geopolitical Risks, Election And Global Tensions

The upcoming U.S. presidential election and various geopolitical tensions worldwide pose additional risks to supply chains. Volatile political situations, such as conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East, and the Taiwan Strait, have the potential to trigger massive logistics disruptions. Weather events, including hurricane season and extreme weather conditions, further compound these risks.

Strategies For Resilience

To mitigate the impact of these supply chain risks, businesses must prioritize preparation and flexibility. Building alternate sources of supply and transport routing options, establishing clear freight priority structures, and diversifying partners and shipping options are essential strategies. Collaboration with reliable third-party logistics (3PL) partners can help distribute risk and navigate disruptions effectively. In the face of uncertainty, a resilient supply chain is one that embraces flexibility and contingency planning.

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Source: freight waves