Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Maritime transport sails stormy seas against political and structural headwinds
Shaky outlook for seaborne trade as uncertainty over world economy remains
Environmental sustainability agenda steers maritime industry towards cleaner fuel sources
World maritime trade lost momentum in 2018, with volumes expanding at 2.7%, below the historical averages of 3.0% and 4.1% recorded in 2017.
Total volumes are estimated to have reached 11 billion tons, an all-time high, according to UNCTAD records. UNCTAD is projecting 2.6% growth in 2019 and an annual average growth rate of 3.4% for the period 2019–2024. However, the outlook remains challenging, given the heightened uncertainty regarding trade policy and wide-ranging downside risks clouding the horizon.
Said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi: ‘The dip in maritime trade growth is a result of several trends including a weakening multilateral trading system and growing protectionism. It is a warning that national policies can have a negative impact on the maritime trade and development aspirations of all.’
In 2018, world merchandise trade growth decelerated at an unexpected rate, and tariffs on trade between China and the United States of America escalated amid mounting trade tensions and a proliferation of national trade-restrictive measures.
Apart from trade policy crosscurrents, geopolitics and sanctions, environmental concerns, fuel economics and tensions involving the Strait of Hormuz – a strategic maritime chokepoint – were in the headlines.
Other forces at work continued to slowly reshape the maritime transport landscape. A new normal, contrasting with the historical perspective, appears to be taking hold. This trend is characterized by overall moderate growth in the global economy and trade, a supply chain restructuring in favour of more regionalized trade flows, a continued rebalancing of the Chinese economy, a larger role of technology and services in value chains and logistics, intensified and more frequent natural disasters and climate-related disruptions, and an accelerated environmental sustainability agenda with an increased awareness of the impact of global warming.
A transition to the new normal calls for an improved understanding of the main issues at stake, better planning, and flexible and forward-looking-policies that can effectively anticipate change and enable appropriate response measures that take into account the heterogenous nature of developing countries as a group and their varied local conditions and needs.
A copy of the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2019 is available here:
One of Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani’s last duties before leaving office on 13 February was to make a written statement on Light Dues, the means of financing the marine aids to navigation services of the United Kingdom.
In the document she said: ‘A strong and growing maritime industry is vital to the economy of the United Kingdom and it is critical that we treasure and protect this vital artery if we are to remain a world-leading maritime centre.
‘The work of the General Lighthouse Authorities2, which provide and maintain marine aids to navigation and respond to new wrecks and navigation dangers in some of the busiest waters in the world, is crucial to underpinning that vision whilst maintaining our vigorous safety record and continuously improving standards of safety.
‘Reductions in the three General Lighthouse Authorities’ running costs have enabled the UK to reduce light dues on four occasions since 2014. For 2020 to 2021 I intend to freeze light dues rates at 37½ pence per net registered tonne. This will mean that light dues will have fallen by 30% in real terms since 2010.
‘Light dues rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the General Lighthouse Authorities are challenged to provide an effective and efficient service which offers value for money to light dues payers.’
New hubs of business and enterprise will be opened across the UK creating thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s post-Brexit growth, the Government announced on 10 February.
Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on the opportunities leaving the EU has presented. This was the style of a news item delivered on behalf of HM Treasury.
A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.
It is understood that once the ten-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for Freeport status on a competitive basis.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.
‘This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.’