Global maritime trade to rebound by 4.8 pct in 2021 from coronavirus impact: UN

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Global maritime trade should recover next year after tanking by 4.1 percent in 2020 owing to the coronavirus, a UN agency forecast on Thursday.

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“The pandemic has sent shockwaves through supply chains, shipping networks and ports, leading to plummeting cargo volumes and foiling growth prospects,” the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in its annual review of maritime transport.

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UNCTAD expects maritime trade growth to rebound by 4.8 percent next year, “assuming world economic output recovers.”

But “the short-term outlook for maritime trade is grim,” it noted.

“Predicting the pandemic’s longer-term impact as well as the timing and scale of the industry’s recovery is fraught with uncertainty,” the review added.

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UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said the shipping industry will be at the forefront of efforts towards a sustainable economic 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.

The UN agency said the pandemic underscored “the urgent need to invest in risk management and emergency response preparedness in transport and logistics.”

But UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne, stressed that the pandemic should not push back the shipping industry’s action on climate change.

“Post Covid-19 recovery policies should support further progress towards green solutions and sustainability,” she said.

“The momentum of current efforts to address carbon emissions from shipping and the ongoing energy transition away from fossil fuels should be maintained.”

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