More than 80% of international trade in goods is carried by sea, and an even higher percentage of developing-country trade is carried in ships. The Review of Maritime Transport, an annual publication prepared by the Division on Technology and Logistics - UNCTAD secretariat, is an important source of information on this vital sector. It closely monitors developments affecting world seaborne trade, freight rates, ports, surface transport, and logistics services, as well as trends in ship ownership and control and fleet age, tonnage supply, and productivity. The Review contains a chapter on legal and regulatory developments and each year includes a chapter highlighting a different region. In 2010, the focus is on Asia and the Pacific.
Key developments reported this year´s Review include the following:
- In 2009, world seaborne trade (goods loaded) decreased by 4.5% to 7.94 billion tons.
- By the beginning of 2010, the total world merchant fleet had expanded by an impressive 7%, to reach 1.276 billion deadweight tons (dwt).
- World container port throughput declined by estimated 9.7% to reach 465 million TEUs in 2009, the Review reports.
- UNCTAD´s Liner Shipping Connectivity Index revealed that the average ranking of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in 2010 was 111, compared to an average ranking of 78 for other developing countries and 64 for developed countries. The rating indicates that LDCs remain isolated from major or frequent shipping routes. Between 2004 and 2010, the connectivity ranking of LDCs improved just 1 point.
- The RMT also details recent developments in maritime legislation such as steps by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regarding the scope and content of an international regime to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping. In April 2010 a protocol on the 1996 Hazardous and Noxious Substances Convention was adopted which aims to overcome obstacles to the ratification and entry into force of the Convention.
- The chapter on the developments in the Asia-Pacific region reviews the period from 2007 to 2009, and gives special consideration to landlocked developing countries in the region. The Review shows a downturn 4 % in economic activity in 2009, reflecting the wide geographical spread of the global 2008 crisis. The Asia-Pacific region decelerated to its lowest level in 8 years. Container trade volumes on the trans-Pacific and the Asia-Europe trades plummeted in 2009 as did intra-Asian container volumes and the Asia-Pacific port container throughput. By mid-2010, economic indicators were showing a recovery in the region´s economic growth and trade.