New UN trade report spotlights links between maritime transport and sustainability

14 October 2015

The 2015 Review of Maritime Transport, published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), underscored the role of maritime transport in helping implement a workable international sustainable development agenda.

The Review is the main United Nations publication on seaborne trade, the world’s fleet, freight costs, port traffic, maritime connectivity and the relevant legal and regulatory framework. It is of particular relevance to developing countries, whose trade volume is estimated to be 90 per cent seaborne.

According to the Review, due to the slow recovery of world economy led by uneven growth in developed economies and a slowdown in developing countries and economies in transition has led to the sluggish pace of growth rate in the shipping industry.

At the beginning of the year, the fleet totalled 89,464 vessels, with overall 1.75 billion in deadweight tonnage. However, the newer tonnage cannot be compensated for the natural aging of the fleet, as there is less delivery of newbuilding and reduction in scrapping activity.

The report also revealed that developing countries, especially in Africa and Oceania, pay 40 to 70 per cent more on average for the international transport of their imports than developed countries.

This is mainly due to regional trade imbalances, pending port and trade facilitation reforms, as well as lower trade volumes and shipping connectivity.

Further, the report also states that the developing economies' share of world container port throughput increased marginally to approximately 71.9 per cent. This continues the trend of a gradual rise in developing countries' share of world container throughput.

The report also announced that the Polar Code, adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will come into effect on 1 January 2017. According to the Code, mandatory provisions must be established to ensure ship safety and prevent environmental pollution in both Arctic and Antarctic waters.

The report further stated that several regulatory measures were adopted at IMO, including strengthening legal framework relating to ship-source pollution and reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) from international shipping.

Lastly, guidelines for the development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials required under the 2010 International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea were also adopted.


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