During 2008 container throughout globally increased by 4% to reach 506m teu. Of this Chinese mainland ports handled 22.6% and with the addition of the Port of Hong Kong, the figure exceeds the 25% mark.
UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2009 acknowledges that the global economic downturn has slowed world seaborne trade and says that an increase in the number of ships has resulted in freight rates remaining depressed.
At the start of 2009 there were 4,638 container ships available for service, with a total capacity of 12.14m teu, an increase of 8.5% in the number of ships or 12.9% in teu capacity.
This growth was the result of vessel orders placed before the financial crisis, when the industry was still expecting continuing high growth rates in demand – which did not materialise according to the UNCTAD report.
The report then points out that as the world’s shipping capacity continues to increase, the industry finds itself confronted with a surge of oversupply and tumbling freight rates.
According to UNCTAD, these challenges are further compounded by other developments, including maritime security at sea and the need to address the climate change challenge.