Policy priorities

Shipping and Global Trade

Shipping is the backbone of global trade, enabling the import and export of affordable goods on a scale that is not possible for any other transport mode. Shipping needs global trade to exist and global trade cannot exist without an efficient shipping industry. Around 80% of world trade in goods is carried by the international shipping industry and EU shipping companies are large players in this global industry.

European shipowners control 40% of the world’s merchant fleet and operate shipping services all over the world. This includes trade between non EU countries such as trade between the Far East and Latin America, so called “cross trades”. For many shipping companies the majority of their trade activity actually happens outside of the EU.  

European shipowners thus play a key role in European and international trade and business. Moreover, in recent years specialised shipping activities have developed in connection to the offshore industry, representing an important new maritime activity. Trade brings jobs, growth and improves the standard of living.

Today more than ever global trade and open markets are under pressure. Protectionism is on the rise and principles of global liberalised trade are put into question. Support for free and open trade can no longer be taken for granted. Nor can it be taken for granted that European shipping companies will be able to continue to experience a de facto largely open trade environment worldwide. This is serious and a high concern for EU shipping companies. Their core environment to thrive is under pressure.

For EU shipowners an EU external shipping policy is based on the following principles:

• Keep global markets open

• Include shipping in any EU trade and development policy agenda

• Secure free and equal access to international maritime transport services via EU trade agreements

• Strengthen bilateral maritime dialogues with direct involvement of the EU shipping industry

• Stay flexible to seize new opportunities

Read more of Shipping and Global Trade, Business Climate and Trade Facilitation for Short Sea Shipping