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4% expansion in seaborne trade volume in 2017: UNCTAD

10
Oct '18
Courtesy: UNCTAD
Courtesy: UNCTAD
Seaborne trade expanded by 4 per cent in 2017, the fastest in five years, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) forecasts similar growth this year. Volumes across all segments are set to grow in 2018, with containerised and dry bulk commodities expected to grow the fastest at the expense of tanker volumes, an UNCTAD report says.

The 2018 edition of the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport was launched at the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit in Hong Kong recently.

“While the prospects for seaborne trade are positive, these are threatened by the outbreak of trade wars and increased inward-looking policies,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

“Escalating protectionism and tit-for-tat tariff battles will potentially disrupt the global trading system which underpins demand for maritime transport,” an UNCTAD press release quoted Kituyi as saying.

The warning comes against a background of an improved balance between demand and supply that has lifted shipping rates to boost earnings and profits. Freight-rate levels improved significantly in 2017 (except in the tanker market), supported by stronger global demand, more manageable fleet capacity growth and overall healthier market conditions.

Supply-demand improvements, namely in the container and dry bulk shipping segments, are expected to continue in 2018. Freight rates may benefit accordingly, although supply-side capacity management and deployment remain key. UNCTAD projects an average annual growth rate in total volumes of 3.8 per cent up to 2023.

On the supply side, after five years of decelerating growth, 2017 saw a small pick-up in world fleet expansion. During the year, a total of 42 million gross tonnes were added to global tonnage, equivalent to a modest 3.3 per cent growth rate, according to the report.

Liner shipping consolidation, technological advances, and climate change policy are key drivers of change in global shipping, it adds. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


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