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Global seaborne trade expanding at improved 4% rate: UNCTAD

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Seaborne trade is expected to grow by 4% this year, the same as in 2017, which was the fastest rate for five years, according to the 2018 edition of the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport.

Volumes across all segments are set to grow, with containerised and bulk commodities outpacing tanker volumes, says the report, partly because of ongoing supply-demand improvements.

UNCTAD projects an average annual growth rate in total volumes of 3.8% up to 2023.

“While the prospects for seaborne trade are positive, these are threatened by the outbreak of trade wars and increased inward-looking policies, warned Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. “Escalating protectionism and tit-for-tat tariff battles will potentially disrupt the global trading system which underpins demand for maritime transport.”

Meanwhile, liner shipping consolidation, technological advances, and climate change policy are key drivers of change in global shipping, says the annual UNCTAD report, a repository of voluminous statistics and now marking its 50th year of publication.

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