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Maritime Trade and Merchant Shipping: The Shipping/Trade-Ratio from the 1870s Until Today.

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Abstract: This paper discusses the development of countries’ market shares in world shipping over the last 150 years. The analysis is based upon a new and purpose-built indicator: the shipping trade-ratio. This indicator presents the relationship between the merchant marine of a country and the country’s role in world trade. Analysis of the shipping trade-ratio identifies two important developments. First, although the share of the world fleet registered in Europe has dropped significantly, Europe’s role in world shipping over the last fifty years has been more stable than is commonly perceived. Second, there appears to have been an increasing specialisation in the world shipping industry, both among and within continents. Internationally and within Europe, certain “super-transporters” have acquired large market shares, while most countries have relatively limited fleets.

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