An Essential Service to World Trade
Shipping is essential to the world economy. Without shipping, the ability to trade between continents, to transport huge quantities of raw materials, and to import and export affordable food and manufactured goods would come to a grinding halt. Ships are the primary transportation tools of international trade because much of the world’s surface is covered by water and there are simply no comparable means of accessing other continents at the relatively low cost afforded by marine transportation. Immense tonnages of oil, primary commodities, and manufactured goods are carried by sea day in and day out, year after year, and over very long distances - safely, inexpensively and efficiently. Indeed, there are about 50,000 merchant ships trading throughout the world, carrying every kind of cargo conceivable and manned by over a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.
"For years economists have been tracing global maritime trade for information not just on the health of the global economy but on how it's evolving and where it's headed." (Fortune Magazine)