PTI Advent 2018: Delivering Christmas


As December draws on, we at Port Technology International have been looking at the role shipping plays in delivering Christmas to people all over the world, as well as its priceless role in global trade.

Shipping is the lifeblood of the global economy and is responsible for carrying 90% of world trade. There are over 50,000 merchant ships currently trading internationally, manned by over a million seafarers of every nationality.

 In 2018, as it has done every year, shipping really will be assuming the role of Santa by taking your presents from the manufacturer and delivering them to your door.



Shipping has always been pivotal to global supply chains and human development. Even as far back as classical times, it has been instrumental in enabling technological innovation and connecting people.

Sea lanes brought continents closer together while ports allowed an ever increasing number of goods to cross borders.

For approximately 1500 years the Silk Road connected East and West. A massive network of trade routes over land and sea, it took its name from the lucrative trade in silk, which was a highly precious commodity at the time.



It played a significant role in the development of civilizations in China, Kore and Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Arabia, East Africa and Europe – a fact which emphasizes, perhaps more than any other, the importance of trade and shipping.

How is the trade war affecting shipping? Find out with a Port Technology technical paper

Today, China seeks to rebuild the Silk Road in the shape of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is the biggest infrastructure project in history and is estimated to cost anything between US $900 billion to $1 trillion.  

As we move into 2019 and then look towards 2020, the role of shipping will only grow as new potential shipping routes are explored in the Arctic and a new class of containerships that could hold carry 23,000 TEU.



CMA CGM, the fourth biggest container line in the world, is awaiting delivery of two of these ships, which are currently being built in China. They are expecting to be operational by 2020.

This means more cargo on the sea, which could potentially see TEU records broken, as they have been this year.

In August 2018, Maersk announced that one of its vessels – the Mumbai Maersk – had broken the record for the largest amount of cargo ever carried when it left the dock at Tanjung Pelepas Port in Malaysia carrying 19,038 TEU.

2019 will see all carriers prepare for the upcoming 2020 rules on sulfur emission, adding eco-friendly technology to the many challenges the industry already faces.

However, one thing is for certain. When Christmas 2019 comes round, it will be driven, as it has every other year, by container shipping.

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