Sri Lanka held on to the 16th best connected trading nation to others by sea status in 2018, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s latest Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI), released alongside the Review of Maritime Transport 2018.
The country’s LSCI number has increased by 108.9 percent to 72.46 in 2018 since UNCTAD first compiled the index in 2004.
The best-connected territories for seaborne trade were all in Asia led by China (1), Singapore (2), Republic of Korea (3), Hong Kong (China) (4), and Malaysia (5) rounding out the top 5, each with a score of more than 100 according to the index’s metrics.
The LSCI is an indicator of a country’s position within the global liner shipping networks. It is calculated from data on the world’s container ship deployment—the number of ships, their container carrying capacity, the number of services and companies, and the size of the largest ship.
Seaborne trade expanded by a healthy 4 percent in 2017, the fastest growth in five years, while UNCTAD forecasts similar growth this year.
According to its Review of Maritime Transport 2018, volumes across all segments are set to grow in 2018, with containerized and dry bulk commodities expected to record the fastest growth at the expense of tanker volumes.
The 2018 edition of the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport, marking its 50th year of publication, was launched at the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit that took place in Hong Kong on 3–4 October 2018.
“While the prospects for seaborne trade are positive, these are threatened by the outbreak of trade wars and increased inward-looking policies. Escalating protectionism and tit-for-tat tariff battles will potentially disrupt the global trading system which underpins demand for maritime transport,” UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi said.
UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2018 has identified seven key trends that are currently redefining the maritime transport landscape and shaping the sector’s outlook.
They are: protectionism, digitalization, e-commerce and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, excessive new capacity, consolidation, relationship between ports and container shipping lines, scale and climate change.
The authors of the report stressed that these trends entail challenges and opportunities which require continued monitoring and assessment for effective and sound policymaking. They highlighted that Belt and Road Initiative would lead China to achieve higher growth rates surpassing the traditional global operators.
“Port development and refurbishment projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, for example in Pakistan (Gwadar), Djibouti, Myanmar (Kyaukpyu), Greece (Piraeus), and Sri Lanka (Hambantota and Colombo) are contributing to the upgrading and up scaling of port infrastructure in Africa, Asia and Europe.
“Chinese investment in container ports is expected to grow as port operators in China continue to expand internationally, ultimately surpassing the growth of traditional global operators,” the report stated.