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Review of Maritime Transport 2009

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Against the background of a global financial crisis and economic downturn, growth in seaborne trade continued, albeit at a slower rate. Existing forecasts suggest that the outlook for seaborne trade is uncertain and that some challenging times lie ahead for shipping and international seaborne trade. These challenges are further compounded by other developments, including maritime security at sea and the need to address the climate change challenge. The Review of Maritime Transport examines trends in sea-borne trade and analyses the comparative performance of different geographic regions and countries. Every year, the Review of Maritime Transport gives attention to transport developments in a particular region. The focus in 2009 is on developments in Africa since 2006 when UNCTAD last reported on the region.

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Trade and freight markets

This chapter looks at the demand side of international seaborne trade by describing conditions and trends in trade and freight markets, covering the major tanker, bulk cargo and liner sectors. This chapter expands upon the general overview of international maritime trade as described in chapter 1. The start of 2008 continued the buoyant trend experienced in the preceding year in all sectors. However, by the middle of the year, things took a turn for the worse, as the global financial crisis began to affect demand. Trade volumes in the bulk cargo and liner sectors sustained dramatic declines, which continued for the remainder of the year and well into 2009. The tanker market fared slightly better during 2008 compared to other sectors, although by the middle of 2009 all sectors were experiencing similar declines. Initially, the record oil price reached in July 2008 had been pushing tanker rates up for the first half of 2008, and tankers being used for storage helped to maintain rates high until the global economic crisis took effect.

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