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Sea freight on the crest of a wave

Maritime trade has a positive impact on building strong relations between countries and, consequently, economic development in the world, experts say. The macro-economic approach confirms the high importance of this mode of transport, yet for a large number of companies it is above all practical: it enables large volumes of cargo to be transported over long distances while being economically viable, and at the same time it can be precisely tailored to the customer's needs. It is also worth betting on it because of the benefits it can bring to the environment.

According to long-term forecasts, maritime transport, which already accounts for 90% of international trade in tonne-kilometres, will grow by 2.2% per year until 2030, and by 0.6% over the following two decades[1]. Statistics show that a high degree of openness to the use of sea transport is the domain of strong, dynamically developing economies. It is enough to mention that at the top of the ranking of countries evaluated according to this criterion, published by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) in July 2019, there are, among others, China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, the USA and the United Kingdom[2].

The example of these economic powers is encouraging, however if this is not a sufficient argument for individual companies, tangible benefits can be invoked. First and foremost, the costs of maritime transport should be mentioned. It consistently enables the delivery of heavy, oversized shipments over long distances in a cost-effective manner. When you can accept a delivery time of about four to six weeks, maritime transport seems to be optimal. Since the customer can order a maritime service from any port in Europe or the world, logistics operators are able to meet their expectations in terms of both transit time and price.

The market of ship operators is continuously struggling to increase its competitiveness in relation to other modes of transport, and therefore, more and more container ships are being launched. Orders are placed for vessels with a capacity of 22,000 TEU, and perhaps in the future this value will reach as much as 30,000 TEU. The aim is to reduce unit costs and thus increase the competitiveness of maritime transport. The implementation of container handling automation in ports can also contribute to increased cost efficiency due to lower unit labour and fuel costs and higher efficiency of transport processes. For many companies, sea transport is a cheaper and more convenient alternative not only to air, but also to road transport, which in the case of trade with the UK, in the face of the upcoming Brexit, is at risk of congestion.

The development of the maritime industry and the growing interest in this type of transport is additionally influenced by its openness and ability to adjust to the needs of customers. Logistics operators such as Raben Group have developed the whole transport process so that the customer can easily and transparently control its course - from ordering a service to delivery of goods. The diversity of our offer in maritime transport: dry containers (DRY), temperature-controlled containers (REEFER), less than the container load containers (LCL), oversized shipments or sea tankers (Tank, Flexitank), allows the customer to choose the appropriate form of securing the goods. This ensures that even during transport lasting several weeks, the safety of the cargo is guaranteed.

Finally, the fact that it contributes to reducing the negative environmental and social impact of transport, especially when it comes to transport within Europe, speaks in favour of the maritime transport. More freight transported by vessels means less trucks and consequently increased safety on the roads, less congestion, lower CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and less smog - especially if the number of LNG-powered vessels is growing.

In these circumstances, it can be safely stated that, in trade with overseas countries, maritime transport has and will continue to be the driving force behind economies around the world. Poland clearly wants to be a part of this trend. This is confirmed both its place in the aforementioned UNCTAD ranking - 27th out of 178 economies - and the dynamics of growth. Although China is 100 points away from the top of the list, it has one of the fastest growing LSCI (Liner Shipping Connectivity Index) in the last decade, which is the basis for the ranking. Internal national data also show that maritime trade is gaining in importance in our country. In 2018 there was an increase of 17.8% in the volume of cargo handled by the maritime fleet compared to the previous year[3]. The role of this mode of transport is also highlighted by the “Strategy for Sustainable Transport Development until 2030”, published by the Ministry of Infrastructure in March 2019. This gives a reason to hope that the position of maritime transport in the supply chain - both over long distances and in the short term - will remain unchanged in the coming years.

[1] DNV GL 2017 maritime forecast to 2050, December 2017, https://issuu.com/maritimeprofessionals.net/docs/dnv_gl_eto-2017_maritime_forecast_t

[2] https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2151

[3] Maritime Economy in Poland in 2018, Statistics Poland, April 2019.


Dawid Graczyk

Seafreight Branch Manager

Raben Logistics Polska