According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates in its Review of Maritime Transport 2020 on November 12, global maritime trade will significantly drop by 4.1% in 2020 due to the disruption caused by COVID-19.
The report has also noted that the short-term outlook for maritime trade is grim.
It is also difficult to predict the pandemic’s longer-term impact as well as the timing and scale of the industry’s recovery.
Supply chains, economies, shipping networks and ports, have been adversely affected, leading to plummeting cargo volumes and foiling growth prospects. Hence the report warns that further disruption may cause a steeper decline.
However, UNCTAD expects a return to growth in 2021.
It hopes that the industry will expand by 4.8% in 2021, assuming world economic output recovers. But it highlights the need for the maritime transport industry to anticipate change and be well prepared for a transformed post COVID-19 world.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said; “The global shipping industry will be at the forefront of efforts towards a sustainable recovery, as a vital enabler of the smooth functioning of international supply chains,” “The industry must be a key stakeholder helping adapt ‘just-in-time efficiency’ logistics to ‘just-in-case’ preparedness,” he added.
UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne, also said the pandemic should not push to the back burner action to combat climate change in shipping. Therefore, post-COVID-19 recovery policies should support further progress towards green solutions and sustainability.
“The momentum of current efforts to address carbon emissions from shipping and the ongoing energy transition away from fossil fuels should be maintained,” she added.
Apart from decarbonisation, digitalisation has also seeped into the maritime industry.
It has eliminated the need for paperwork in ports. The report reinforces the need for standards and interoperability in electronic documentation.
Contrary to that, digitalisation has also called for certain effects such as cybersecurity risks, which can impact supply chains and services in global maritime trade.
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