Pakistan Among World’s Top 3 Ship Scrapping Countries: UNCTAD

Pakistan ranked one of the top three ship scrapping countries in the world, ahead of neighbouring China, as the south Asian country demolished around 3.5 million tons of vessels during the last year, a UN body’s report revealed this week.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) data showed that Pakistan scrapped 3.459 million tons of vessels in 2017, a little more than the world’s second largest economy China’s 3.445 million tons.

India and Bangladesh, however, were the biggest ship scrappers with 6.323 and 6.260 million tons of demolition, respectively, UNCTAD’s data showed. “Over 90 percent of shipbuilding activity occurred in China, Japan, and Republic of Korea, while 79 percent of ship demolitions took place in South Asia, notably in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan,” the UN body said in the Review of Maritime Transport 2018 report.

Globally, 22.916 million tons of vessels were demolished during the last year. World fleet expansion increased slightly in 2017. A total of 42 million tons were added to the global tonnage last year, equivalent to a modest 3.3 percent growth.

Overall ton-miles generated by seaborne trade in 2017 amounted to an estimated 58,098 billion tons.

Pakistan scrapped 2.527 million tons of dry bulk carriers last year, while reported tonnage sold for demolition of container ships, general cargo ships, offshore vessels and ferries and passenger ships stood at 748,000 tons, 102,000 tons, 77,000 tons, and 5,000 tons, respectively. No oil tankers, gas carriers, and chemical tankers were brought for scrapping.

The UN body said the tonnage on order for all main vessel types further decreased between 2017 and 2018.

“Compared with the peaks in 2008 and 2009, the current tonnage on order has decreased by 62 percent for container ships, 66 percent for oil tankers, 76 percent for dry bulk carriers and 85 percent for general cargo ships.”

UNCTAD further said port development and refurbishment projects under the Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan and other countries are contributing to the upgrading and upscaling of port infrastructure in Asia.

The UN body said Asia plays a central role in global trade and shipping. The Asia Pacific region accounts for over 42 percent of the number of ports and 60 percent of the calls with China representing 19 percent of all calls alone. Asia dominates the container-handling business. The region continued to account for nearly two-thirds of the global container port throughout.

UNCTAD said some 80 percent of world merchandise trade in volume terms is handled by ports worldwide and nearly two thirds of this trade is loaded and unloaded in the ports of developing countries.

“The strategic importance of well-functioning and efficient ports for growth and development cannot be overemphasised.”

UNCTAD projects global containerised trade to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4 percent in 2018 and six percent in the next five years. The container shipping industry ended last year with a total profit of seven billion dollars.