World shipping is expected to grow less in 2022, only 1.4%, compared to 2021, when it recorded a 1.4% increase, at an annual rate, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projected.
By 2022, UNCTAD expects maritime trade growth to moderate and by 2023-2027 to expand at an annual average of 2.1%, a slower pace than the previous three-decade average of 3.3%.
For many years, the fastest growing segment was containerized trade, for which UNCTAD forecasts tepid growth of 1.2 percent in 2022, before rebounding slightly to 1.9 percent in 2023.
In its Review of Maritime Transport 2022 report, this international body exposes that the expected slowdown is a consequence not only of pandemic-induced closures, but also of strong macroeconomic headwinds combined with a weakening Chinese economy.
In addition, in the face of rising inflation and cost of living, consumers are spending less and, to some extent, shifting spending from goods to services.
By 2022, the operating outlook remains complex. Globally, inflation and the cost of living are rising.
In China, which is the world’s largest exporter, a zero Covid policy triggered stoppages and disrupted manufacturing, logistics and supply chains.
At the same time, in Ukraine, a major food exporter, Black Sea ports have been closed since the beginning of the war.
Industrial actions and labor strikes in several ports around the world, such as in Germany, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and the United Kingdom, have also affected shipping.
Meanwhile, a series of extreme weather events, with, for example, floods, hurricanes and heat waves in Australia, Brazil, Pakistan, East Africa, Europe and the United States, are also having an impact.
All of these issues pose further problems for global supply chains and logistics, and for maritime trade.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, global economic growth forecasts were revised downward, with fears that the world economy could enter recession and stagflation.