The importance of maritime logistics to trade and development has never been more evident than in the past year globally.
Historically high and volatile freight rates, congestion, closed ports and new demands on shipping in the wake of Covid-19 and the Ukraine war have had a measurable impact on people’s lives.
With ships carrying more than 80% of the world’s trade volume, rising transport costs and declining maritime connectivity lead to increased inflation, food shortages and disrupted supply chains, all features of the current global crisis.
Specifically, UNCTAD estimates that higher grain prices and dry bulk freight rates in early 2022 contribute to a 1.2% increase in consumer food prices.
Container ships spent 13.7% more time in ports in 2021 compared to 2020, exacerbating delays and shortages.
And over the past year, total greenhouse gas emissions from the global fleet increased 4.7 percent.
UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport has assessed and tracked developments in shipping and ports since 1968.
The experience and extensive data sets generated over the past decades help UNCTAD provide a full and comprehensive assessment of the causes and impacts of the trends covered in the Review.
And the message emerging from our analysis is clear: the world once again needs the shipping sector to navigate the rough seas of crises.
The war in Ukraine has disrupted major shipping routes and supply chains.
It has also triggered record prices that could push tens of millions more people around the world into hunger and poverty this year, as the UN Global Crisis Response Group has stated.
Shipping has a key role to play in cushioning the blow. Prices need to come down to affordable levels, especially for developing countries, and the world needs to have enough fertilizer to feed itself.