The Covid-19 pandemic made a detrimental impact on global supply chains and international trade. In 2020, maritime logistics was particularly affected as supply demands saw abnormal trends, and industries faced economic uncertainty and instability.
However, many ocean freight carriers have benefitted from the global lockdown and the resulting dependency on logistics — 2020 presented some companies with an opportunity to expand shipping rates without risking the loss of clients.
Let’s take a look at some of the maritime trends and practices that will likely be observed throughout 2021 and have a noticeable impact on global trade.
- Covid-19-related trends to continue
The average number of daily Covid-19 cases in the US rose to nearly 70,000 in March. By analyzing the maritime logistics data from 2020, the pandemic can be positively correlated with unpredictable international and regional trade behaviours.
As new and unrecognized strains of the coronavirus are emerging every few months or so, and deploying a stable vaccination system is still challenging, maritime logistics is vulnerable to unforeseeable economic spikes and political regulations.
Hence, in general, the economic dominance in the logistics industry will be dependent on how efficiently governments take actions to limit pandemic-related damages.
- Digitalization would be established
Digitalization is a promising model that applies to most areas of maritime logistics. It includes the promotion of digital documentation, online communications, conducting marine research on digital platforms, and establishing algorithms that are less reliant on manual interventions.
The first fully automated container ship, the Norwegian Yara Birkeland, is due to initiate commercial operations in 2021. It’s expected to be remotely operated and support complex algorithms for self-navigation and maritime problem-solving.
- Efforts for environmental sustainability
It’s been estimated that maritime trade is responsible for nearly 3% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. The numbers are only expected to rise exponentially if mitigation efforts are not put in place.
Thus, many international corporations have agreed to increase carbon emission fees to support decarbonization. Steps are already being taken to raise the fines for breaking CO2 restrictions and failing to construct environmental-friendly vessels.
- US-China trade war to remain active
During his presidential term, Donald Trump imposed 25% tariffs on China in response to improper trade practices in the Asian country. Recently, under the new President Joe Biden’s administration, Katherine Tai has been appointed as the US trade representative.
Tai, who has a history of initiating legal actions against Chinese trade, may not be ideal for relaxing the situation. So far, there haven’t been any material changes to the US-China maritime tax regulations and sanctions.
As the US trade industry is already under pressure from the effects of global uncertainty and local politics, it would be best if the two nations could come to terms on a mutually beneficial set of maritime legislations.