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Safeguarding Global Maritime Security: A Call to Action from SMART Association

Steve Rees, President
Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) Association


February 9, 2024

As the world grapples with the ongoing crisis in the Red Sea, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) Association advocates for greater international cooperation to ensure maritime security. The release of the Global Maritime Security Joint Letter underscores the urgent need for unified action to address the escalating threats facing our industry and global trade at large.

The crisis unfolding in the Red Sea and Suez Canal has reverberated across the maritime sector, inflicting significant disruptions and economic repercussions. Attacks on carriers navigating these vital waterways have not only endangered lives but also disrupted supply chains, leading to extended transit times and soaring freight rates. The turmoil has far-reaching implications for industries reliant on efficient maritime transportation, including the textile recycling and secondhand apparel sector.

The repercussions of the crisis are stark. Vessels, forced to circumvent the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the danger zone, face extended sailings of 10-15 days, intensifying logistical challenges and compounding costs. Freight rates have skyrocketed, doubling since the onset of the crisis, with profound implications for the affordability of goods and future inflation.

Blank sailings and skipped bookings further strain global shipping, driving up demand and prices while exacerbating supply chain vulnerabilities. It is evident that the current measures are insufficient to safeguard maritime commerce, necessitating a concerted, multilateral response to address the root causes of insecurity.

At the heart of this response is the imperative to protect the sanctity of maritime trade on a global scale. The coalition formed to address the crisis represents a crucial step towards this goal, but it requires broader participation and commitment from the international community. It is incumbent upon every nation, mainly those directly impacted by the crisis, to actively engage and collaborate within this framework.

The SMART Association, alongside over 100 trade associations, call for universal participation in the coalition. While some nations have joined this endeavor, others remain on the sidelines, underscoring the urgent need for concerted diplomatic efforts to secure broader protection and support.

The ramifications of inaction are profound. Recognizing the heightened risks, insurance companies have already ceased coverage for vessels in the region, further complicating maritime operations and adding to the financial burden.

In conclusion, the crisis in the Red Sea represents a pivotal moment that demands the global community's coordinated and resolute response. The SMART Association reiterates its unwavering commitment to advancing maritime security and calls upon all stakeholders to join hands in safeguarding the future of global trade.

Together, let us chart a course towards a safer, more resilient maritime ecosystem where commerce can thrive. The time for action is now.