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Global maritime trade to recover, expend 4.8% in 2021 — UNCTAD

The volume of global maritime trade is projected to recover in 2021 and expand by 4.8 percent, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), has predicted.

In its Review of Maritime Transport 2020, UNCTAD said the recovery is, however, fraught with uncertainty as many factors can ‘significantly influence the outlook’.

According to UNCTAD, the global economy was severely affected by a twin supply and demand shock in 2020 amid supply chain disruptions, demand contractions and global economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These trends, it said, unfolded against the backdrop of an already weaker 2019 that saw international maritime trade lose momentum.

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Meanwhile, it stated that it had become clear that disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on shipping and trade, which may trigger shifts in the overall operating landscape, together with a heightened sustainability and resilience-building imperative.

“Potential shifts range from changes in globalisation patterns to alterations in supply-chain design, justin-time production models, technology uptake and consumer spending habits. Depending on how these patterns unfold and interact, the implications for maritime transport can be transformational. Further, risk assessment and management, as well as resilience-building to future-proof supply chains and maritime transport, are likely to feature more prominently on policy and business agendas,” UNCTAD stated in its review.

UNCTAD further said that owing to the slowdown in the world economy and trade, growth in international maritime trade stalled in 2020 and reached its lowest level since the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

“Developed and developing economies alike were affected, reflecting the continued trade tensions between China and the United States as well as the overall weakening of the world economy,” it stated.

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