B.1.1 Global seaborne transport

Shipping is essential to the functioning of the global economy and the related international merchandise trade. Shipping facilitates trade by moving goods from production to consumption sites.

Raw materials and finished goods are traditionally the main cargoes in international trade.  They include foodstuffs, chemicals, oil, whitegoods, clothing, cars etc. In later decades, trade in intermediate goods for further processing has grown steeply and in parallel with the so-called fragmentation of the production processes.  Fragmentation is the splitting of the production process between several locations to produce each component where the production conditions and costs are most favourable.  International trade in these components constitutes an important share of seaborne trade. 

World seaborne trade rises with economic growth.  Economic growth is measured by world gross domestic product (GDP) and the seaborne cargo flows show this growth.