Shipping Market

Shipping Market

 

(also freight market; Russian, frakhtovyi rynok), the area of international trade involving maritime shipping services that transport cargo and (in Soviet usage) passengers. These services assume various forms. In tramp operations, for example, cargo is transported by ships that sail with no previously fixed schedule. In liner operations, small consignments are accepted by ships that operate on regular schedules. Passenger services are also considered part of the shipping market (seeLINE NAVIGATION).

Each type of shipping has its own market. The market for tramp ships is divided, according to the type of vessel, into freight markets for dry-cargo ships, refrigerator ships, and tankers. In addition, the shipping market for tramp ships is subdivided into individual geographic areas, where the principal bulk cargoes are unloaded; these areas include the North Atlantic, South American, and Pacific regions. Although the individual sections and areas of the shipping market are distinguished by specific trade conditions, they are closely interrelated and, taken together, form a single world shipping market.

Most of the transactions on the world shipping market take place at shipping exchanges. London was long the central shipping market for oceangoing vessels; this fact reflected the dominant role of the British merchant fleet in world shipping. Quotations from the Baltic Mercantile and Shipping Exchange in London were decisive for local shipping markets. In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the growth of the merchant fleets of such countries as the USA, Norway, Greece, Japan, Germany, and Italy enhanced the role of the national shipping markets of these countries and freed them from London’s monopoly.

In the mid-1970’s the national shipping markets gained in importance. Major markets include Oslo, where many tanker transactions take place; Piraeus and Genoa, which are centers for the Mediterranean shipping market; and New York, where ships are chartered to carry coal and grain. The Baltic Exchange still remains of major importance.

The USSR provides transport services on the world shipping market. Between 1961 and 1970 the number of Soviet shipping transactions increased by a factor of about seven. Until the early 1960’s the USSR usually chartered the ships of capitalist shipowners to carry Soviet cargoes to and from foreign ports. The rapid growth of its merchant fleet enabled the Soviet Union in the mid-1960’s to enter the world shipping market as an exporter of transport services and, in the late 1960’s, to become one of the largest ship-owning powers in the world, shipping cargoes on all the principal world trade routes.

A large percentage of the Soviet export of maritime transport services involves the shipping of foreign trade cargoes for other socialist countries. As a result of the development of shipping transactions providing for the reciprocal assignments of ships and cargoes among the member nations of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), a world socialist shipping market had emerged by the early 1970’s. The world capitalist shipping market is dominated by anarchy in the areas of production and exchange, by sharp fluctuations in market conditions, and by competition. In the socialist market, however, shipping and affreightment are being developed according to a plan that will result in stable, long-term trade relations.

S. I. POLIAKOV

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