How Shipping is Shaping international trade in 2023

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Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s trade is carried by the global shipping industry. Without shipping, global cargo trade via imports and exports would essentially cripple nations and international markets. The sector was heavily hit by the Covid-pandemic disrupting global supply chains yielding a sharp increase in freight costs. This came with the partial closure of key ports in China, one of Africa’s leading market sources. Despite this, data shows China-Africa trade reached $185.2 billion between January and September 2021, up 38.2 percent year-on-year. As shipping lines suspended operations, many factories followed suit essentially shutting down much of the global international trade. Following the 2020 global shipment shutdown, another shipping crisis forced goods to be locked down for weeks. The blockage of the Suez Canal by giant cargo vessel, the 400 meter-long-Ever Given operated by global shipping firm Evergreen, became wedged across the Suez after being blown off course by high winds, preventing the movement of cargo ships across the canal. It kept more than 450 ships in waiting at the vital water way that provides passage for about 12per cent of global trade. The 193km-long canal connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, providing the shortest sea link

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Martin Mwita is a business reporter based in Kenya. He covers equities, capital markets, trade and the East African Cooperation markets.

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