Boom in shipping over next 20 years

12 August 2011

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13 August 2011 | Adam Leach

Increased globalisation will boost Britain’s reliance on shipping to transport supplies, according to an economic think tank.

A report by the Centre for Economics andBusiness Research (CEBR) predicts that over the next 20 years marine-based transport of supplies will boom, with imports to the UK growing by 287 per cent, from $345 billion today to £1.63 trillion, and British exports increasing by 119 per cent, from £233 billion to £1.95 trillion.

The report forecasts that even if the global use of fossil fuels such as oil and gas falls, the decline of production in the North Sea will lead to an increase in fuel shipments from other regions, such as the Middle East, and by extension a significant increase in shipping traffic.

Douglas McWilliams, chief executive at the CEBR and author of the report, said: “Although trade down telephone wires is the fastest growing element in international trade, globalisation means that we will also become much more dependent on shipping. This will create a need to invest in port facilities and to ensure security in the sea lanes.”

In addition to the increase in traffic, the report also predicts that the balance between long haul and short haul transport will shift. The report says: “The focus of Britain’s trade will shift from ‘short haul’ origins and destinations across the [English] Channel to ‘long haul’ origins and destinations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere around the world.”

Between 2005 and 2010 the gross tonnage going through the port of Belfast, as an example, increased by more than 25 per cent to around 25 million tonnes.

The increasing shift towards emerging markets around the world is supported by the forecast that by 2020 the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - will have increased their share of the global economic output from a quarter to a third.

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