Home » Breaking News, Customs & Trade » Developing countries carving bigger share in maritime trade, says UN report

The share of developing countries’ GDP in overall global economic output has jumped from 17 percent in 1980 to over 28 percent by 2010, with the growth trend projected to continue, according to the annual Review of Maritime Transport report for 2011, released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in December.

The report also noted that developing countries’ share of global trade also increased from approximately 30 percent to more than 40 percent from 2008 through 2010 alone.

Global seaborne trade, which represents 90 percent of world trade, reached 8.4 billion metric tons in 2010, and is carried by a global fleet of 103,392 commercial vessels as of the first of this year.

The UNCTAD report cites the improved efficiency and reduced costs of modern port operations which have contributed significantly to the increase in global trade and overall economic output, but notes that lower costs are not uniformly enjoyed.

Developing countries are expanding their participation in a range of different maritime businesses. They already hold strong positions in ship scrapping, ship registration and the supply of seafarers, and they have growing market shares in more capital-intensive or technologically advanced maritime sectors such as ship construction and shipowning. China and the Republic of Korea between them built 72.4 percent of world ship capacity in 2010, and 9 of the 20 largest countries in shipowning in January 2011 are developing countries, UNCTAD said in a statement on their website.

“What these figures and trends tell us, very emphatically, is that the future of the shipping industry is heavily weighted toward developing markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and to a certain extent Central Europe, and that aggressive infrastructure investment is required right now to keep up with the pace of that projected growth,” stated  Kim Fejfer, CEO of APM Terminals.

Other key developments reported in UNCTAD’s review this year include the following:

  • After contracting in 2009, international shipping experienced an upswing in demand in 2010, and recorded a positive turnaround in volumes, especially in the dry bulk and container trade segments. Total seaborne trade reached an estimated 8.4 billion tons in 2010.
  • The year 2010 saw record deliveries of new tonnage, 28 percent higher than in 2009, resulting in an 8.6 percent growth in the world merchant fleet. The fleet reached almost 1.4 billion deadweight tons (dwt) in January 2011, an increase of 120 million dwt over 2010. New deliveries stood at 150 million dwt, against demolitions and other withdrawals from the market of approximately 30 million dwt.
  • The price of newbuildings was lower for all vessels types in 2010, reflecting market views that in the short term, the capacity of the world fleet is sufficient to meet world trade.
  • World container port throughput increased by an estimated 13.3 percent to 531 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, in 2010, after stumbling briefly in 2009. The UNCTAD Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI) reveals that China maintains its lead as the single most connected country. It is followed by Hong Kong (China), Singapore and Germany. In 2011, 91 countries increased their LSCI ranking over 2010, 6 saw no change, and 65 recorded a decrease.
  • In 2010, the rail freight sector grew by 7.2 percent to reach 9,843 billion freight ton kilometers (FTKs). The road freight sector grew by 7.8 percent in 2010 over the previous year, with volumes reaching 9,721 billion FTKs.
Photo from UNCTAD

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