Maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and the global economy. Around 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value are carried by sea and are handled by ports worldwide.
Global seaborne trade is doing well, supported by the 2017 upswing in the world economy. Expanding at 4 per cent, the fastest growth in five years, global maritime trade gathered momentum and raised sentiment in the shipping industry.
While the prospects for seaborne trade are bright, downside risks such as increased inward-looking policies and the rise of trade protectionism are, nevertheless, weighing on the outlook.
An immediate concern is the trade tensions between China and the United States of America, the world’s two largest economies, as well as those between Canada, Mexico, the United States and the European Union. Escalating trade frictions may lead to a trade war that could derail recovery, reshape global maritime trade patterns and dampen the outlook.
Other factors driving uncertainty include the ongoing global energy transition, structural shifts in economies such as China, and shifts in global value chain development patterns.
If leveraged effectively, game-changing trends, such as digitalization, electronic commerce (e-commerce) and the Belt and Road Initiative, the exact impact of which is yet to be fully understood, have the potential to add wind to the sails of global seaborne trade.
- Transport policy and legislation
- Transport infrastructure and services
- Climate change adaptation and maritime transport