UNCTAD writes,

The Review of Maritime Transport 2020 provides an update on the latest trends in maritime trade, supply, markets, key performance indicators, and legal and regulatory developments. It also includes a special chapter with testimonials from maritime stakeholders and their experiences in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the global interdependency of nations and set in motion new trends that will reshape the maritime transport landscape. The sector is at a pivotal moment facing not only immediate concerns resulting from the pandemic but also longer-term considerations, ranging from shifts in supply-chain design and globalization patterns to changes in consumption and spending habits, a growing focus on risk assessment and resilience-building, as well as a heightened global sustainability and low-carbon agenda. The sector is also dealing with the knock-on effects of growing trade protectionism and inward-looking policies.

The pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of maritime transport as an essential sector for the continued delivery of critical supplies and global trade in time of crisis, during the recovery stage and when resuming normality. Many organizations, including UNCTAD and other international bodies, issued recommendations and guidance emphasizing the need to ensure business continuity in the sector, while protecting port workers and seafarers from the pandemic. They underscored the need for ships to meet international requirements, including sanitary restrictions, and for ports to remain open for shipping and intermodal transport operations.

The global health and economic crisis triggered by the pandemic has upended the landscape for maritime transport and trade and significantly affected growth prospects. UNCTAD projects the volume of international maritime trade to fall by 4.1% in 2020. Amid supply-chain disruptions, demand contractions and global economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the global economy was severely affected by a twin supply and demand shock. These trends unfolded against the backdrop of an already weaker 2019 that saw international maritime trade lose further momentum. Lingering trade tensions and high policy uncertainty undermined growth in global economic output and merchandise trade.

Volumes expanded by 0.5% in 2019, down from 2.8% in 2018, and reached 11.08 billion tons in 2019. In tandem, global container port traffic decelerated to 2% cent growth, down from 5.1% in 2018. Trade tensions caused trade patterns to shift, as the search for alternative markets and suppliers resulted in a redirection of flows away from China towards other markets, especially in southeast Asian countries. The United States increased its merchandise exports to the rest of the world, which helped to somewhat offset its reduced exports to China. New additional tariffs are estimated to have cut maritime trade by 0.5% in 2019, with the overall impact being mitigated by increased trading opportunities in alternative markets.

You can find and read the full report here (click): UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2020

Source: UNCTAD

Today I participated with a speech and in a panel on freeports/freezones at an online event organized by IBMATA (The International Border Management and Technology Association).

IBMATA is a leading non-profit organization and think tank with the mission to secure and foster innovative and effective borders.

This was an excellent seminar led by IBMATA’s chairman and my dear friend Tony Smith.

Tony, a long-term UK Government civil servant os the former Dirctor General of UK Border Force and he also run the security of the London Olympics. In my mind Tony Smith is the leading expert on people movement in the world.

The high-level event also included a key note speech from MP Marcus Fysh and Shanker Singham.

I am the Chairman of IBMATA’s International Advisory Board.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is expected to be signed this weekend during video meetings hosted by Asean

In the absence of the US from trading blocs, China seeks opportunities to write regional trade rules, say observers.

China is expected to sign a mega regional trade deal with 14 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region this weekend, wrapping up a major agreement before the next United States administration comes into office, Chinese officials said on Wednesday.

“Up till now, all negotiations have been completed. We are working diligently on the legal reviews of all text in the agreement, and we hope that we would be able to sign the agreement at the leaders’ summit,” assistant minister of commerce Li Chenggang told a press briefing on Wednesday”

Leaders from China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are expected sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as they meet via teleconference on Sunday, according to Chinese officials.

The signing of the agreement will be one aspect of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s attendance at the series of teleconference meetings hosted by Asean from Thursday to Sunday.

In forming what would be the world’s largest trade deal following eight years of negotiations, the 15 countries comprise close to one-third of the world’s population and global gross domestic product, dwarfing other regional trading blocs such as the European Union, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a rival trade bloc that went into effect in 2018 following the withdrawal in 2017 of the US under President Donald Trump.

Regional trade observers have said the US’ absence from both RCEP and CPTPP has encouraged regional countries to look elsewhere for leadership. China has looked to RCEP as an opportunity to write regional trade rules and diversify its avenues of trade amid declining economic relations with the United States.

Source: GWTD