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Shipping to slow in face of recession, war and Covid: UNCTAD

GLOBAL shipping is expected to slow down next year as it faces recession, war in Ukraine and remnants of a Covid scare, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Reuters reports.

The slowdown is expected to impact shipping, which transports more than 80 per cent of global trade, although tanker freight rates could stay high.

In its Review of Maritime Transport for 2022, the UNCTAD projected global maritime trade growth would moderate to 1.4 per cent this year and stay at that level in 2023. This compares with estimated growth of 3.2 per cent in 2021 and overall shipment volume of 11 billion tonnes, versus a 3.8 per cent decline in 2020.

For the overall 2023-2027 period, growth is predicted at an annual average of 2.1 per cent, a slower rate than the previous three-decade average of 3.3 per cent, UNCTAD said, adding that "downside risks are weighing heavily on this forecast".

A surge in consumer spending in 2021 pushed container shipping markets to record levels with ports backed up around the world, which was also partly due to the effects of lockdowns.

UNCTAD said the "logjam in logistics will dissolve with the rebalancing of demand and supply forces", but added the risks of strikes in ports and hinterland transport had increased.

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

"We need to be better prepared to cope with shocks to global value chains," said the report.

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Shipping to slow in face of recession, war and Covid: UNCTAD
Shipping to slow in face of recession, war and Covid: UNCTAD

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