Trade a top performer
Even if growth is expected to slow in the coming years, the maritime transportation of goods will continue to expand. The relative importance of various regions and trade routes is set to undergo some change, however.
Global goods transportation by maritime vessels grew by 4% to 9.2 billion t in 2012, and was thus 11% higher than at its peak level before the 2008 economic crisis (source: Unctad). The augmentation in the worldwide maritime haulage volume has outperformed the improvement in global GDP since the end of 2009. The former increased by 4% in the period under review and came to 46 billion tonne-miles. Even if the rise in the volume of goods traded settles at a more moderate quantity in the medium term, in the long term it is supposed to surge strongly again.
These are some of the core assertions that the International Transport Forum, an intergovernmental organisation at the OECD, has made in its report entitled Transport Outlook 2015. It presented the figures in Paris at the end of January. The paper highlights trends and developments in the context of world cargo volumes, and describes how the focus of business activity is shifting from developed countries to emerging economies.
These factors naturally have an direct impact on maritime routes as well as on overall goods flows. The document reports, for example, that trade between Asian nations is expected to rise from about 6% of the total volume today to approximately 16% by the year 2050.
A big plus for the North Pacific
The outlook contains a crucial prediction, namely that the North Pacific route will take over as the most important artery from the lane across the North Atlantic in terms of freight volume in tonne-kilometres. Trade across the North Pacific is growing 100 percentage points more rapidly than across the North Atlantic. The ITF has also projected strong improvements for deepsea connections in the Indian Ocean, where volumes may quadruple.
The ITF assumes that global GDP will advance by an annual average of 3%. Worldwide trade will swell by about 3.5%, however. This is about half of the 6.9% registered in the years between 1990 and 2007. This development is down to the fact, amongst others, that nations are increasingly focusing on other fields of activity, such as services, and not relying so heavily on exports anymore.