Global Shipping Rates Still Volatile

Mid-2009 shipping prices reaching less than half of peak levels in 2008

International shipping prices remain volatile, with a partial recovery of sea cargo rates in mid-2009 reaching less than half of peak levels in 2008, an annual review by a UN think-tank showed recently.

The Baltic Dry Index, a composite of shipping prices for dry bulk products, hit a record high in May 2008, said the UN Conference on Trade and Development's Review of Maritime Transport 2009 report.

But the collapse in trade in the global economic crisis then sent shipping prices tumbling by more than 90% by the end of 2008.

"Towards the middle of 2009, a partial recovery was seen, with rates at around 40% of their 2008 peak," said UNCTAD.

"However, volatility in freight rates remains, suggesting uncertain times ahead for developing economies dependent on trade in commodities," it added.

About 80% of global trade is transported by sea, according to UNCTAD.

The World Trade Organization had earlier predicted that global trade would slump by over 10%t in 2009.

For the full year of 2008, sea freight volumes reached a record 8.17 billion tons.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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