Benefits of Liner Shipping

Global Economic Engine

Recently, two independent sources looked at the economic contribution of the liner shipping industry and concluded that it is indeed a global economic engine for two reasons: the significant amount the industry contributes directly to the global economy, and the role of the industry as a facilitator of economic growth for other industries.

IHS Global Insight - Economic Contribution of Liner Shipping Industry

In November 2009, IHS Global Insight, a recognized global leader in economic and financial analysis and forecasting, completed an evaluation of the economic contribution of the liner shipping industry using 2007 as a base year. Key findings include:

  • The annual economic contribution of the liner shipping industry was:

    • Direct gross output or GDP Contribution -- US$ 183.3 Billion
    • Direct capital expenditure -- US$ 29.4 Billion
    • Direct jobs -- 4.2 million
    • Compensation to those employees US$ 27.2 Billion
  • Full annual economic impact, including indirect and induced effects:

    • US$ 436.6 Billion
    • 13.5 million jobs
  • Cargo transported by the liner shipping industry represents about two-thirds of the value of total global seaborne trade, equating each year to more than US$ 4 trillion worth of goods.

  • Workers at ports world-wide loaded and unloaded cargo for more than 10,000 liner vessel-stops per week, with the average ship making 2.1 port calls per week.

  • Liner shipping companies deployed more than 400 services providing regularly scheduled service, usually weekly, connecting all countries of the world.

  • In mid-2008, there were more than 17.8 million containers in the world fleet, which cost the industry US$ 80.1 billion to purchase.

  • In the United States alone, the industry spends US$ 869 million per year to operate the fleet of chassis used to move containers over land.

  • The liner shipping industry has spent over US$ 236 billion in more than a dozen countries on the purchase of new vessels.

Read or download a copy of the full report.

The Box - How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

In 2006, former finance and economics editor for the Economist, Marc Levinson released this book, which makes the case that the modern global economy would not exist were it not for introduction of the container and the liner shipping industry that moves them. Some of his notable observations:

  • The container made shipping cheap and changed the shape of the world economy.

  • Consumers enjoy infinitely more choices thanks to the global trade the container has stimulated.

    • The U.S. imported four times as any varieties of goods in 2002 as in 1972, generating a consumer benefit - not counted in official statistics - equal to nearly 3 percent of the entire economy. 
  • The ready availability of inexpensive imported consumer goods has boosted living standards around the world.

  • The emergence of the logistics industry ... has led to the creation of new and often better-paying jobs in warehousing and transportation.

  • The container not only lowered freight bills but saved time.

Marc Levinson summarized the content of "The Box" in an article published by the Transportation Research Board entitled: Container Shipping and the Economy - Stimulating Trade and Transformations Worldwide.

Valuation of the
Liner Shipping Industry

Read an independent study about the economic importance of the liner shipping industry.