There are "solid signs" of restrained fleet expansion, matching
world seaborne trade growth more closely, although not in all
This was the message delivered by Richard Scott MA MCIT FICS,
managing director of Bulk Shipping Analysis, at a recent meeting
in London of WISTA UK (Women International Shipping and Trading
Association). "Trade continues to grow and may even be
accelerating from the historical growth levels of the last two
years of 2-3 percent," he told the audience.
This compares with annual growth of just over 5 percent before
the 2008 shipping market crash. Annual world trade carried by
merchant ships in 2016 has been estimated at 11.1 billion metric
tons, he continued. This is equivalent to 1.5 metric tons for
every person on the planet.
Deadweight capacity of the world fleet is greatest in the dry
bulk sector which makes up 43 percent of the fleet, with oil
tankers at 31 percent, containerships 13 percent and liquid gas
(LNG and LPG) carriers at 3 percent. The remaining tonnage is
made up of other vessels such as ro-ros and reefers.
China continues to dominate trade growth, Scott explained, its
contribution having risen from 5 percent of total world seaborne
imports in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016. "A large part of world
seaborne trade growth consists of additional Chinese imports," he
The trend for oil tanker charter rates continues down but he
predicted some recovery soon, signs of which are already
emerging, for the dry bulk and container sectors.
However, any growth in world trade in 2017 was still proving
insufficient to absorb world fleet overcapacity. "Shipping
investors tend to be over optimistic," Scott observed. "There are
imbalances in many trades - especially in the bulk sector."