Maritime trends that preceded the pandemic

COVID-19 hit world trade after an already weak 2019, in which global maritime trade lost further momentum as trade tensions continued to bite.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in its recently released Review of Maritime Transport 2020, says COVID-19 hit world trade after an already weak 2019, in which global maritime trade lost further momentum as trade tensions continued to bite.

They included China-US tensions, uncertainties around Brexit, complaints made by several countries against Indian tariffs, the Japan-Korea trade dispute and general moves towards protectionism. The report estimates that additional tariffs arising from the China-US tensions cut the volume of maritime trade by 0.5% in 2019.

Other notable facts and figures on global maritime trade in 2019 include the following:

  • Iron ore trade fell for the first time in 20 years, by 1.5%, due to disruptions such as the Vale dam collapse in Brazil and Cyclone Veronica in Australia.
  • Brazil overtook the US as the world’s largest seaborne grain exporter.
  • As of March 2020, an estimated 20% of global trade in manufacturing intermediate products originated in China, up from 4% in 2002.
  • The deployment of larger container vessels often increases total transport costs across the logistics chain. The capacity of the largest container vessel went up by 10.9%, but it’s mainly the carriers that benefit from the economies of scale offered by larger vessels, while ports and inland transport providers don’t necessarily benefit.
  • Ports are showing more interest in strengthening connections with the hinterland to get closer to shippers and ‘anchor’ cargo volumes – in line with the push for port-centric solutions over recent years.
  • China, Greece and Japan remain the top three ship-owning countries in terms of cargo-carrying capacity, representing 40.3% of the world’s tonnage and 30% of the value of the global fleet.
  • Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama remain the three leading flags of registration, in terms of carrying capacity and of value of the fleet registered. As of 1 January 2020, they represented 42% of the carrying capacity and 33.6% of the value of the fleet.
  • The flags of Iran, Taiwan and Thailand registered the highest increases in terms of deadweight tonnage. The number of ships flying the flag of Iran quadrupled – this was due to the pressure of sanctions, which led several registries to de-flag vessels associated with trade involving the country.

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Donate to Maritime Fairtrade

Your support helps sustain our extraordinary level of research and publication, enabling millions of readers to learn more about the maritime industry and make informed decisions. Thank you for your support.

This is a secure webpage.
We do not store your credit card information.

Related STORIES