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Shipping has been an important human activity, especially where prosperity depended primarily on international trade and interregional trade. Transportation has been one of the main factors of globalization, along with communications, international standardization, and trade liberalization. Due to a number of technological, economic, and socio-cultural forces, only limited country can keep itself fully isolated from the economic activities of other countries. Many countries have seen enormous economic growth in the recent past due to their willingness to open their borders and markets to foreign investment and trade. This increased flow of knowledge, resources, goods, and services among world’s nations is called “globalization”, formally defined as the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets.

Marine transportation is an integral, if sometimes less publicly visible, part of the global economy. The marine transportation system is a network of specialized vessels, the ports they visit, and transportation infrastructure from factories to terminals to distribution centers to markets. Maritime transportation is a necessary complement to and occasional substitute for other modes of freight transportation. For many commodities and trade routes, there is no direct substitute for waterborne commerce.

The Important of Maritime Transport in the Global Economy
Transport is the most important link in economic relations. It is involved in creating of products and delivering it to consumers, provides the link between production and consumption, between different industries, between countries and regions. It affects the development of the economy as a consumer of metal, energy, timber, rubber and other products. More than 100 million people in a world work in the system of transport.
Sea transport is used for external relations. Only in some countries such as USA, Russia, China, Canada, Turkey, France, maritime transport provides internal transportation. This transport carries more than 80% foreign trade goods. This is the cheapest mode of transport because the exploitation of maritime requires greater network costs, as in other types of transport. Modern ships can carry cargo of any size and weight.

Maritime Transportation Impacts on Economy
Studying 2 of the world busiest ports (China and Singapore) provide evidence that maritime transport has an important part to play in their country respective economies.
In the 1980s, Singapore acts as a regional processing and distribution center. Re-exports’ share of total exports averaged 35 percent from 1980 – 1987. Although primary commodities were still a factor in trading activities, machinery and transportation equipment dominated. Singapore also served as a back door to trade with Asian communist countries for third world countries, such as Indonesia.
Trade, along with the rest of the economy, reasserted itself by 1987, resulting partly from government economic decisions and partly as a reflection of rising world commodity prices. In 1988 Singapore’s total trade amounted to about S$167.3 billion, with a global trade deficit of about S$8.18billion. Singapore’s GDP grew by 10.8percent in 1988, the best growth rate in fifteen years.
Trade in goods and services was Singapore ‘s life blood as truly in 1989 as it was in the early twentieth century or a century earlier when the British East India Company first began business there. Trade, along with domestic savings and foreign investment, remained key to the country’s growth. It was one of the world’s few countries where total international trade was greater than total GDP. In 1988 trade was more than three times GDP, and two-thirds of the goods and services Singapore produced were exported.
The Singapore marine industry has seen significant growth over the last 30 years, evolving from a small regional ship repair and building centre into a world-class industry that services international clientele. The industry includes ship repair, ship building, rig building and offshore engineering, and other marine supporting services.
Globally renowned for its reliable and convenient range of comprehensive marine services, Singapore is a one-stop marine centre for ship owners, managers and agents around the world. Generating an annual turnover of $3 billion and employing some 30,000 workers, the marine industry plays a crucial part in Singapore's economic growth. Ship repair and conversion form the backbone of the local marine industry, accounting for about 60% of the total revenue.
Singapore is also well supported by its strategic geographic, location and comprehensive and integrated marine infrastructure services. The marine industry has contributed to the economic development of Singapore for the last 30 years. It will continue to play a critical role in the national economy, in view of Singapore's drive to become a leading international maritime hub.
Chinese merchant shipping has made considerable progress during the last decade. Its plays an important role in international trade and is a symbol of the growing maritime power of China. In 1996, the Chinese shipping fleet comprised 22.5million tons deadweight tonnage. There was an estimated 11.7million tons dwt fleet tonnage on Chinese owned shipping flying flags of convenience. Container vessels have come to play an important role in the Chinese shipping industry. Besides being the top producer of shipping containers, the Chinese container fleet is making volume of containers handled by Chinese ports has surged forward increasing four fold between 1990 and 1995.
As a result of opening up of the economy and major maritime economic reforms, the Chinese shipping industry has expanded rapidly. Since 1984, when the first foreign ship docked in a Chinese port, there has been a major surge in foreign investments in this sector. At the end of 1995, China had 290 domestic shipping companies engaged in international trade and by 1996; fifteen foreign companies had joined the competition. By 1999, there were more than 120 Sino-foreign joint venture shipping companies in China. There are 350 representative offices of foreign shipping companies and 467 foreign shipping agents. These trends have generated a healthy competition in the shipping market and provided a boost to the sector. China has also concluded ocean and river shipping agreements with 52 countries of the world. Today, more than ninety per cent of the Chinese foreign trade is carried by ships; the shipping industry has turned itself into an engine for impressive economic progress. There are over four hundred domestic and international shipping companies engaged in maritime trade making China an A class member state of the United Nations Maritime Organization.
During the last two decades, Chinese maritime economy has provided statics and developed at an impressive pace. In the 1980s, maritime economy grew at seventeen per cent annually. Since 1990s the average growth has stood at twenty per cent. In 1996, coastal cities which rely mainly on maritime economy accounted for forty-eight per cent of the coastal cities GDP. In 1997, marine industry output value rose to 300million Yuan, accounting 4 per cent of the GDP. This was 7.6 per cent up from the previous year. The coastal provinces have thus contributed substantially to the overall national GDP. The maritime component of the economy of coastal cities and countries experienced a high growth rate amounting to 2244.3 billion Yuan which corresponds to 52.4 per cent of the coastal GDP.
Since its return to mainland China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has continued to maintain its glory as a major maritime center in Asia. It is the 7th largest trading entity in the world. In 1999, Hong Kong port handled 16.2million TEUs up from 12.5 million TEUs in 1995 making it one of the busiest container ports. It is reported that more than 210,000 ships made port calls in 1999 either to land/discharge cargo, maintenance or crew changes. Being the hub of maritime activity, there are over 1000 shipping related companies that cater to needs of ships owners, crew and ship repairs. Hong Kong is also a major center for finance, insurance, brokerage and legal arbitration. The Hong Kong Shipping registry is very popular among ship owners and offers simplified procedures, worldwide coverage and services.
Economic development in Pacific Asia and in China in particular has been the dominant factor behind the growth of international transportation in recent years. Since the trading distances involved are often considerable, this has resulted in increasing demands on the maritime shipping industry and on port activities. As its industrial and manufacturing activities develop, China is importing growing quantities of raw materials and energy and exporting growing quantities of manufactured goods. The outcome has been a surge in demands for long distance international transportation. The ports in the Pearl River delta in Guangdong province now handle almost as many containers as all the ports in the United States combined.

The importance of maritime transportation in global freight trade is unmistakable, particularly in terms of tonnage as it handles about 90% of the global trade. The global maritime transport system is composed of a series of major gateways granting access to major production and consumption regions. Between those gateways are major hubs acting as points of interconnection and transhipment between systems of maritime circulation.
Maritime Transportation is a vital means of transport for the prosperity of a country. It has an impact on the rate of economic development in a country. It is the most optimal cost efficient means of transporting a large number of goods. It creates employment opportunity in other dependant industries like shipbuilding, ship breaking, ship repairing, maritime training etc. It plays a huge role in increasing trade, generating employment.

Global Forum on Transport and Environment in a Globalising World., accessed 20 October 2011

NBER Working Paper Series. Global Trade and the Maritime Transport Revolution., accessed 24 October 2011, accessed 26 October 2011

Maritime Sector., accessed 27 October 2011

Maritime Transport Costs and Their Impact on Trade., accessed 30 October 2011

The Importance of Maritime Transport In the Global Economy., accessed 18 November 2011

Maritime Power of People’s Republic of China: The Economic Dimension., accessed 18 November 2011

Singapore – The Economy., accessed 18 November 2011

Marine market in Southeast Asia., accessed 18 November 2011

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