Review of Maritime Transport suggests early 2008 marked the high point of the shipping boom but a decline in the Baltic Dry Index indicates that the financial crisis has spread to international trade, with negative implications for developing countries, especially those dependent on commodities
UNCTAD -International seaborne trade in 2007, driven by emerging and transition economies, surpassed a record 8 billion tons, the Review of Maritime Transport 2008 (RMT) reports. Strong demand for shipping services helped push to unprecedented highs the cost of moving dry bulk commodities internationally, as echoed by the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) through the first quarter of 2008. (The BDI is a composite of shipping prices for various dry bulk products such as iron ore, grain, coal, bauxite/alumina and phosphate, and is a useful indicator of price movements.)
More recently, however, the BDI has declined more than 11-fold: from 11,793 points in May 2008 to 891 as of early November. This shows that the unfolding financial crisis has spread to international trade with negative implications for developing countries, especially those dependent on commodities.
More than 80% of international trade in goods is carried by sea, and an even higher percentage of developing-country trade is carried in ships.
The Review, an annual publication prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat, is an important source of information on this vital sector. It closely monitors developments affecting world seaborne trade, freight markets and rates, ports, surface transport, and logistics services, as well as trends in ship ownership and control and fleet age, tonnage supply, and productivity.
The Review contains a chapter on legal and regulatory developments and each year includes a chapter highlighting a different region. In 2008, the focus is on Latin America and the Caribbean.