Attacks by Yemeni rebels on commercial ships in the Red Sea have had only a “moderate” impact on global trade, Ralph Ossa, the World Trade Organisation’s chief economist told AFP.

Speaking on the sidelines of the WTO’s 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi, Ossa said the flurry of strikes on vessels is “clearly something we have to watch.”

But “I think for now, the macroeconomic impact seems to be moderate,” largely because of relatively weak demand in Europe and sufficient shipping capacities, he said.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been harassing ships in the Red Sea since November in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians amid the Gaza conflict.

“Freight rates have gone up but they are not nearly as high as they were at their peak in 2021 during the (Covid-19) pandemic,” Ossa said.

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