According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), global seaborne shipments increased by an estimated 3.4% in 2014.
This represents an additional volume of more than 300 million tonnes, taking the total volume to 9.84 billion tonnes.
In addition, the Review of Maritime Transport 2015 calculates that growth in tonne-miles (t-m) performed by maritime transport was estimated to have increased by 4.4% in 2014, up from 3.1% in 2013.
Dry bulk commodities, namely iron ore, coal, grain, bauxite and alumina, phosphate rock and minor bulk commodities accounted for nearly half the estimated total of 52 572bn t-m performed in 2014. The t-m of dry bulks expanded firmly, at 6.4% for major dry bulk commodities and 5.2% for minor bulk commodities.
Apart from China, iron ore and coal demand from other fast-growing economies such as India and the Republic of Korea is now on the rise, and iron ore and coal import demand in Asia has contributed significantly to the growth in dry bulk trade volumes over recent years.
With crude oil volumes estimated to have contracted in 2014, the associated t-m remained flat, indicating growth in distances travelled. The average haul of crude oil trade to Asia was estimated at over 5 000 miles in 2014 – 9% greater than 2005 levels.
The t-m generated by containerised trade were estimated to have increased by 5.4%, driven by the recovery on the peak legs of the Asia-Europe and trans-Pacific trade routes as well as the continued rise in longer haul North-South trade volumes.