The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) presented the 2018 edition of its review of Maritime Transport. The publication examines the current situation of the sector and the long-term prospects for seaborne trade.

The publication highlights the brighter times for shipping services in 2017, supported by the 2017 upswing in the global economy. Seaborne trade volumes expanded by 4%,  the fastest growth in five years. In total numbers world maritime trade was estimated at 10.7 billion tons. Projections for the medium term point to continued expansion, with volumes growing at a 4% for 2018 and 3,8% annual growth rate of 3.2 between 2018 and 2023.

Concerning the world fleet capacity, it experienced an increase of 3.3%, up from 3.2% in 2016. This expansion in ship supply was surpassed by a faster growth in seaborne trade volumes, which has helped the sector to better manage the overcapacity problem. Moreover, the liner shipping industry continued its consolidation trend with new mergers, acquisitions and restructurings. This consolidation process is expected to continue. 

During the current decade, the growth of world trade has expanded at a slower pace compared to the global GDP growth levels. This trend seems to have changed in 2017 as global trade expanded in a 4,7% fuelled by a stronger economic growth in Europe, China and East Asia. The Review identifies several threats to this positive tendency as the uncertainty linked to geopolitical, economic and trade policy risks such as trade tensions between China and the USA, the effects of Brexit and a rise of protectionist trends.  While the prospects for seaborne trade are positive, these are threatened by the outbreak of trade wars and increased inward-looking policies”, said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

This aforementioned  expansion in trade growth has also impacted the overall port industry. Port volumes increased in 2017 reflecting the positive trends, estimates indicate that volumes handled in the 20 biggest global ports increased by a 5% to 9,4 billion tons, doubling the growth rate experienced last year.  This growth is reflected in the important increase in container port throughput,  of which Europe had the highest global increment with a 6,6%.  This expansion was especially significant in Rotterdam, which experienced in 2017 the second largest expansion among the top 20 ports in the world by volume handled with an impressive 9,8% increase.

If you want to read the report you can download it here

Categories: News

0 thoughts on “UNCTAD publishes its 2018 Review of Maritime Transport”

Leave a Reply

Related Posts


Assorimorchiatori publishes “Towline connected”, a book on the Italian towage sector

The Italian Tug Association Assorimorchiatori, organized an event on the 12th of October to present to the public the recently published book “Towline connected – Un servizio in concorrenza per la sicurezza”. The new publication Read more...


World Maritime Day 2021 – Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future

IMO´s World Maritime Day is dedicated this year to “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future”. With this theme the International Maritime Organization pays tribute and tries to give visibility to the sacrifice and heroism Read more...


The EU Commission presents its Port Reception Facilities Directive proposal

The EU Commission has presented its first Strategy for plastics as part of its efforts to reduce waste and promote the development of a circular economy. The strategy presents key commitments for action at EU level as Read more...