The Importance of the Shipping Industry for the Global Economy

People estimate that about 90% of everything that we buy has been on a journey by ship and shipping container. With so many imports and exports going on all over the world, the shipping industry is one that is quite massive.

UK Shipping industry


There are lots of interesting and fun facts about the shipping industry that you may not be aware of, so here is a list of some of the more interesting facts that you can find.

A Massive Industry with Massive Ships

The first shipping container vessels were old tankers left over from World War 2. These ships could hold just less than 60 twenty-foot shipping containers. If you compare the size of the ships to the modern day equivalents, the modern behemoths can carry somewhere in the region of 18,000 twenty-foot containers.

Shipping container vessels are the largest vehicles ever made and can transport cargo very efficiently. If you are looking to send a shipment from one end of the world to the other, then using a shipping container is the friendliest form of transport for our environment.

At any one time there are about 20 million shipping containers being transported on our Oceans, with about 55,000 merchant ships carrying the cargo around the world. The three largest fleets by in the world are the Germans, Japanese and the Greeks. Some of the larger ships can cost over $200 million US Dollars to build, which makes them some of the most expensive transport vehicles in the world.

A Safe Way to Transport Cargo

Although there are quicker ways to transport cargo around the world, the use of shipping containers and shipping vessels is considered a safe way to transport cargo. Shipping has been going on for thousands of years, with people willing to travel vast distances to buy and sell cargo, and make money.

As long as there has been a shipping industry, there have also been pirates. Pirates are a problem that is still prevalent in this modern age. Areas that are at risk are places such as off the coast of Somalia on the way to the Suez Canal, and also parts of South East Asia. It is common for pirates to board ships of all sizes and descriptions, and hold the ship hostage until their ransom is met. The vessels and crew are usually held for ransom until the owners of the ships comply with the pirates demands.

There are roughly around 1.5 million people that are employed all over the world in the global shipping industry. The most popular nationality of seafarers by far is Filipino, with over 250,000 people making up the 1.5 million employed in the industry.

Every year about 2,000 workers lose their lives at sea whilst working on shipping container vessels, and on average two ships are lost each day, whether to natural occurrences or pirates.

A Shipping Container for Every Purpose

With so many different types of cargo being transported all over the world, there is a shipping container suitable for just about every type of cargo.

Electronic Goods Furniture Other Vehicles
Clothing Chemicals Animals
Frozen Foods Raw Materials Toys & Games
Fresh Foods Cars Much, much more

It is possible to find a suitable shipping container to transport your cargo, no matter what your cargo may be. A shipping container allows you to transport cargo to any place in the world at a very cost effective price. The price of shipping is so cheap that it is cheaper for Scotland to send all of the Cod fish that it catches, 10,000 miles away to China to be processed and filleted. The fish will then be sent back to Scotland where it is then sold in the shops and markets. The cost of transporting the fish all this way over two legs is still cheaper than processing the fish in Scotland. That’s the economy with shipping containers.

The USA relies on the shipping industry and their ships to deliver about two-thirds of its oil supply. There are over 350 commercial ports in the USA that deal with the $1.73 trillion dollars worth of goods (estimated during 2011) that arrives in the country each year.

In the USA, they inspect around 5% of the 17 million containers that are transported to the USA each year. The average worldwide for inspecting the contents of a shipping container is between 2-10%. The shipping containers are searched to ensure that no contraband is being transported, or that the declaration of goods and duty owed is correct. Due to the very low percentage of shipping containers that get checked, they are still a very popular way to transporting illicit goods around the world.

Shipping Containers around the World

There are many other facts about the shipping industry, and it is only a matter of time until they bring out the new breed of shipping container vessel that will be able to transport more than 18,000 containers! If you need to transport cargo using sea freight, then you can find shipping containers for sale.

One of the biggest shipping companies in the world is Maersk. Their shipping containers emblazoned with their name are a common site for people all over the world. If you lined up all of the shipping containers that Maersk own, then these would reach almost half way around our planet. If you stacked all of the shipping containers together, then they would be 7,530 times taller than the Eiffel Tower in France. If you emptied the contents of all of the Maersk shipping containers and loaded the cargo onto trucks, the trucks would line up for over 60 miles.

The shipping industry is a huge source of revenue for countries all over the world, with around 2% of the GDP of the UK coming from shipping. It definitely is a force to be reckoned with in the economy of a country and it definitely, is here to stay.

Author: Group Features Editor

James is the Group Features Editor for Agenda Daily managing the business, entertainment, lifestyle, technology and travel sections. After completing a degree in law, he decided that writing was his first love and has been a journalist for over three years working in magazines, TV, radio and online.

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