According to the latest weekly report by Clarksons, global maritime trade will grow by 2.3% in tons and 3.9% in tonne-miles in 2023. In their spring report, the same analyst had predicted growth rates of 1.6% and 2.9%, respectively.
A significant part of this growth is driven by the increased demand for the transportation of energy commodities (similar to 2022) and the reopening of China. During the first six months of 2023, maritime crude oil transport increased by 4.6% compared to the same period in 2022, and petroleum product transport rose by 4.2%. These figures add to the 6.0% rebound in these categories experienced in 2022. In the same period, the demand for maritime LPG transport grew by 8.4%, driven by record-level exports from the United States.
Automobile transport by sea experienced the most significant growth, with a remarkable 25% increase in car shipments during the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. This reflects the rise in Chinese exports and the resolution of supply chain issues caused by COVID, which impacted the results in the first half of 2022.
The end of China’s “zero-COVID” policy also favored the upturn in demand for major bulk commodities. Maritime iron ore transport grew by 5.8% in the first half, and coal transport increased by 8.4%, driven not only by the Chinese demand rebound but also due to fewer supply disruptions, such as those caused by floods in Australia in August 2022 or Indonesia’s ban on exporting coal at the beginning of last year. Maritime grain transport also saw a growth of 4.9% thanks to the resumption of Ukrainian exports and abundant Brazilian harvests.
Regarding liquefied natural gas (LNG) transport, it only grew by 2.8% in the first half of 2023, but this was compared to a very positive first half of 2022. The demand for chemical product transport also increased by 3.1%.
On the other hand, container shipping demand experienced a decline of 3.4%, and minor bulk transport contracted by 1.6%, although both categories have improved their figures since the steep declines recorded in late 2022.