Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Report: Global Seaborne Trade Up 3.8 Percent in 2013

By Mark Edward Nero

Seaborne shipments grew by an average of just 3.8 percent in 2013, taking total volumes to nearly 9.6 billion tons, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said Nov. 21, citing a newly-released report reviewing maritime transport.

Much of the expansion in seaborne trade was driven by growth in dry cargo flows, in particular bulk commodities, which grew by 5.6 percent, the report states. Meanwhile, world container port throughput increased by an estimated 5.6 percent to 651.1 million 20-foot equivalent units in 2013.

The new report also reveals that the size of the world fleet reached a total of 1.69 billion deadweight tonnage in January 2014, following 4.1 percent growth in 2013. Bulk carriers accounted for 42.9 percent of the total tonnage, followed by oil tankers (28.5 percent) and containerships (12.8 percent).

The growth rate was lower than that observed during any of the previous 10 years, and the trend in early 2014 suggests an even lower growth rate for the current year, according to the report. The slowdown reflects the downturn of the largest historical shipbuilding cycle, which peaked in 2012, according to the Trade and Development conference.

As for future vessel deliveries, during 2013, for the first time since the economic and financial crisis in 2008, the order book increased slightly for most vessel types, according to the report. After the previous significant decline, it is expected to take time for those resuming vessel orders to prompt the start of a new shipbuilding cycle.

The report also calculates that the largest national fleets by flag of registration in 2014 are those of Panama, followed by Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore. Together, they account for 56.5 percent of world tonnage. The full report is available at http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/rmt2014_en.pdf.