Business & Economy

UN projects global maritime trade to moderate to 1.4% due to economic gloom

Geneva, Switzerland, Nov 29 (EFE).- The global maritime trade growth will moderate to 1.4 percent for 2022 due to the war in Ukraine and the persisting pandemic effects on the economy, the United Nations trade agency said on Tuesday.

In its Review of Maritime Transport for 2022, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projected that the maritime trade growth, which transports more than 80 percent of the merchandise trade in the world, would stay at that level in 2023.

“And for the period 2023–2027 (the maritime trade will) expand at an annual average of 2.1 percent, a slower rate than the previous three-decade average of 3.3 percent,” the report said.

For many years the fastest-growing segment was containerized trade, for which the UN agency projected the growth in 2022 to be a tepid 1.2 percent before marginally picking up to 1.9 percent in 2023.

“The projected deceleration is a consequence not just of pandemic-induced lockdowns, but also of strong macroeconomic headwinds combined with a weakening in China’s economy,” said the report.

The report said the recovery in maritime transport and logistics was now at risk from the war in Ukraine, the continued grip of the pandemic, and the supply-chain constraints.

The report warned that with rising inflation and living costs, consumers were spending less and switching expenditures from goods to services.

The UN agency called for investment in maritime supply chains to enable ports, shipping fleets, and hinterland connections to better prepare for future global crises, climate change, and the transition to low-carbon energy.

“We need to learn from the current supply chain crisis and prepare better for future challenges and transitions. This includes enhancing intermodal infrastructure, fleet renewal, and improving port performance and trade facilitation,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said.

“And we must not delay the decarbonization of shipping,” she insisted.

The report said logistics supply constraints with a surge in demand for consumer goods and e-commerce pushed container spot freight rates to five times their pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

The rates peaked in early 2022 and sharply increased consumer prices.

But they dropped since mid-2022 and remain high for oil and natural gas tanker cargo due to the ongoing energy crisis.

“Dry bulk freight rates increased due to the war in Ukraine and related economic measures, as well as the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions,” said the report.

The UN agency projected that higher grain prices and dry bulk freight rates could lead to a 1.2 percent increase in consumer food prices, with higher increases in the middle- and low-income countries.

Grynspan also warned of a 4.7 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime and air transport sector between 2020 and 2021.

She expressed concern about the aging global fleet of ships.

“Since 2021, the average age of vessels has increased from 20 to 22 years. This is partly because ship owners and operators, uncertain about future fuel and carbon prices, environmental regulations and technological developments, have delayed investment and are keeping older vessels in operation.” EFE


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