• Tunis

  • Monday, February 5, 2024 at 7:04 AM
    Last Update : Monday, February 12, 2024 at 12:04 PM

Tunisian SMEs Troubled by Freight Price Hike Due to Red Sea Unrest

(AWP) - Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Tunisia face non-stop increases in the price of maritime freight, as well as reduced access to goods and commodities, due to the Yemeni Houthi group's targeting of ships in the the Strait of Bab al-Mandab, in the Red Sea.

Abdel-Razzaq Hawwas, the official spokesman for the National Association for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (ANPME), said that as the conflict moves to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, it impacts two routes for global trade, increasing the rates of both freight and insurance.

“This has harmed the SMEs that import raw materials from abroad,” he added.
SMEs in Tunisia, which contribute more than 80% of the North African nation’s economy, already experience difficulties as a result of their weak competitiveness and lack of access to banking finance, which is monopolized by the major corporations.

“The unrest in the Red Sea, mainly due to the war between Israel and Palestine, has made the region risky, which has caused the price of freight to soar up to 300%, while  insurance rates have risen by more than 200-300%, pushing up global prices,” Hawwas explained.

Although Tunisia is far from the direct routes of the ships being targeted in the Red Sea, the high costs of maritime freight and shipping insurance have undermined its institutions, as well as its consumers.

Sofian Qabsi, a Tunisian who owns a store selling imported auto spare parts, noted that many of his customers have delayed plans to have their cars repaired, due to the high prices of spare parts.

“As for me, I was not harmed, because I sell the goods at the cost price. It is the consumer who is most harmed by the price hike,” he said.