Surge in world trade keeps Greek shipowners in the lead

The Greek-owned merchant navy was the largest in the world in both the number of ships and total capacity at the beginning of 2005, according to the latest report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), «Review of Maritime Transport 2005.» Greek-owned vessels numbered 2,984 – of which only 739 flew the country’s flag – accounting for 18.48 percent of global capacity. The Japanese-owned fleet was the second largest, numbering 2,945 vessels and representing 14.01 percent of global capacity, while Germany’s was third with 2,615 ships and 6.9 percent of total capacity. Of the total capacity of 54,642,000 dwt of the Greek-flagged fleet, 31,035,000 dwt was accounted for by tankers, 20,468,000 dwt by bulk carriers, 2,237,000 dwt by container ships and 494,000 dwt by general cargo vessels. According to the UNCTAD report, the global sea trade grew 4.3 percent in 2004 and is expected to register a similar rise this year. Tugged by the rapidly growing economies of developing nations, particularly China, and their need for raw materials, as well as their swelling export sectors, global sea trade totaled 6.76 billion metric tons last year. Global production rose 4.1 percent in 2004 – the highest rate in a decade – while the volume of world exports grew 13 percent (from 6 percent in 2003). New orders, listings On the back of this global surge in world trade, Greek shipowners witnessed an especially satisfactory growth in their business, and many of them ordered new ships and sought to fund the expansion of their companies through stock market listings, particularly in New York. Freight rates continued rising last year and have done so in 2005, particularly for tankers and bulk carriers. Tanker transports rose 4.2 percent in number, while those for iron were up 12.6 percent and for coal, wheat and bauxite 5 percent. Developing countries saw their share in the global transport fleet grow to 22.6 percent from 21.2 percent in 2003. Ships registered in Asian countries represent 17.4 percent of world tonnage, against 27 percent of developed nations. The global fleet grew 4.5 percent, reaching 895,800,000 dwt at the beginning of 2005. Newly delivered vessels totaled 49,400,000 dwt, while withdrawals and losses were 10,600,000 dwt. Tankers and bulk carriers grew by 6.1 and 4.2 percent in capacity respectively and represented 73.3 percent of the global total. The international container fleet increased 8.4 percent to a total of 98,100,000 dwt. The total capacity of liquefied gas carriers reached 22,500,000 dwt. The average age of the global merchant fleet in 2004 was 12.3 years, with 27.3 percent being over 20 years. Container ships are the youngest, with an average age of 9.4 years.