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UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport for 2022: Global shipping growth at risk from economic crisis

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Global shipping growth at risk from economic gloom, says UNCTADAccording to the “Review of Maritime Transport – 2022” published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the pace of global shipping activity is set to decrease in 2023 due to the impacts of economic turmoil, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the outlook for trade.

  • The report has estimated that the global maritime trade growth would moderate to 1.4% in 2022 and remain at the same level in 2023.
  • The report also compares the estimated growth of 3.2% in 2021 and overall shipment volume of 11 billion tonnes, versus a 3.8% decline in 2020.


  • The slowdown is expected to impact Maritime Transport, the major layer on international trade and the global economy.
  • Around 80% of the international trade volume is transported by sea, and the percentage is even higher for most developing countries.

About the report: 

i.The Review of Maritime Transport, the flagship report of UNCTAD, is published annually since 1968.

ii.The report offers an analysis of structural and cyclical changes affecting seaborne trade, ports and shipping, as well as an extensive collection of statistics from maritime trade and transport.

iii.The 2022 report includes a special chapter on consolidation and competition issues in the maritime transport sector.

Key Points:

i.According to the report, for the period 2023–2027, the growth is expected to grow at 2.1% annually, which is slower than the 3.3% average recorded during the past three decades.

ii.The review has estimated that higher grain prices and dry bulk freight rates in early 2022 contribute to a 1.2% increase in consumer food prices.

iii.The Container ships have spent 13.7 % longer in port in 2021 compared to 2020, exacerbating delays and shortages.

iv.In 2021, the total greenhouse-gas emissions from the world fleet have increased by 4.7%.

Additional info:

The UNCTAD has called for investment in maritime supply chains to enable ports, shipping fleets and hinterland connections to be prepared for global crises like climate change and the transition to low-carbon energy.

About United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):

SecretaryGeneral– Rebeca Grynspan
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland