A report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has warned that the US-China trade war is still a threat to the shipping industry, despite predicting that global volume will continue to grow until the end of 2018.
In its annual ‘Review of Maritime Transport’, launched at the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit in Hong Kong, UNCTAD said that escalating tariffs could have a negative effect on trade flows.
However, UNCTAD also predicted that average annual growth in total volumes will increase by 3.8% by 2023, thanks largely to a greater balance between supply and demand.
According to UNCTAD, freight rates improved significantly in 2017, supported by stronger global demand, more manageable fleet capacity and overall healthier market conditions, with the exception of the tanker market.
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As far as the shipping value chain, Germany retained its place as the largest containership-owning country with a market share of 20% at the beginning of 2018.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi commented: While the prospects for seaborne trade are positive, these are threatened by the outbreak of trade wars and increased inward-looking policies.
“Escalating protectionism and tit-for-tat tariff battles will potentially disrupt the global trading system which underpins demand for maritime transport.”