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Half of UK exporters say Houthi attacks in Red Sea disrupting business | Conflict

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The British Chambers of Commerce says 55 percent of exporters report higher shipping costs and delays.

More than half of exporters in the United Kingdom have been disrupted by attacks carried out by Yemen’s Houthis in the Red Sea, according to a survey by an influential business group.

According to the survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), 55 percent of exporters reported higher shipping costs and delays, as did 53 percent of manufacturers and business-to-consumer services firms.

Among all types of businesses, 37 percent of companies were affected by the attacks, according to a survey of 1,000 firms between January 15 and February 9.

Some businesses surveyed said container hire costs had jumped as much as fourfold, while delivery times had blown out by up to four weeks.

“There has been spare capacity in the shipping-freight industry to respond to the difficulties, which has bought us some time,” William Bain, BCC head of trade policy, said on Sunday.

“But our research suggests that the longer the current situation persists, the more likely it is that the cost pressures will start to build.”

The Iran-backed Houthis have carried out dozens of missile and drone attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, since the start of the war in Gaza.

The rebel group claims to be targeting vessels with links to Israel in an effort to show solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza.

The Houthi attacks have caused major disruption to global trade, with trade volume going through the Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, falling an estimated 42 percent, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Earlier this month, Tetley Tea, the UK’s second-most popular tea brand, said it was facing “much tighter” supplies due to disruptions in the Red Sea.

The United States and the UK have launched dozens of strikes against targets linked to the Houthis in response to the attacks.

On Saturday, the US and UK militaries said they had bombed 18 Houthi sites in Yemen, including underground weapons and missile storage facilities, air defence systems, radars and a helicopter.

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