Building, ownership, registration and scrapping of ships, 2017(Percentage of world total)
Map building, ownership, registration and scrapping of ships, 2017

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2018a), Clarksons Research.

Note: Top five countries in each segment are shown. Building and scrapping are estimated deliveries and demolitions during 2017. Registration and ownership are end-of-year figures.

Find the data on UNCTADstat

Global trends and main players

In January 2018, the world fleet reached a carrying capacity of 1.9 billion dead-weight tons (dwt), 62 million dwt more than in the previous year. Over recent years, tonnage has increased considerably in all segments except general cargo carriers.

The top five ship owning economies together account for 50 per cent of world fleet tonnage. Greece has expanded its lead, adding 21 million dwt in 2017 to reach a market share of 17 per cent, followed by Japan, China, Germany, and the Republic of Korea.

The three leading flags of registration are of economies that are not major shipowners, namely Panama, the Marshall Islands and Liberia. Hong Kong SAR and Singapore follow in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Over 90 per cent of shipbuilding in 2017 occurred in China, the Republic of Korea and Japan. Around 80 per cent of ship demolition took place in South Asia.

Figure 1 World fleet by principal vessel type (Millions of dead-weight tons)

Source: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2018a); Clarksons Research.

Fleet ownership by region

Almost half of the world's tonnage is owned by companies from Asia, followed by owners from Europe and Northern America. China is the largest shipowner in terms of numbers of vessels, but the Greek and Japanese fleets have higher carrying capacity.

Figure 2 Fleet market size by region of beneficial ownership, 2018* (Millions of dead-weight tons)
*
As of 1 January.

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2018a ); Clarksons Research.

Major flags of registration

Most commercial ships are registered under a flag that differs from the flag of the economy of ownership. Registrations in developing economies are particularly common, accounting for 76 per cent of global registrations in terms of tonnage.

Among the top five registries, Marshall Islands have recorded the strongest increase in registrations over recent years. In 2018, they superseded Liberia as the world’s second largest registry. Panama, the world leader, has not recorded any further increase for the last four years. 1

1
For further analyses on that topic, see UNCTAD (2018c).
Figure 3Vessels capacity in top 5 registries* (Millions of dead-weight tons)
*
Ranked by the values as of 1 January 2018.

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2018a); Clarksons Research.

Summary tables

Table 1

Merchant fleet registration by group of economies

Group of economies

2013

2018

Tonnage

Vessels

Tonnage

Vessels

(Millions
of dwt)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

(Thousands)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

(Millions
of dwt)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

(Thousands)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

World

1 626

100.0

86

100.0

1 924

100.0

94

100.0

Developing economies

1 232

75.8

56

64.7

1 461

75.9

63

66.5

Developing economies: Africa

223

13.7

6

6.8

240

12.5

7

7.0

Developing economies: America

465

28.6

17

19.3

452

23.5

16

17.0

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

544

33.5

33

38.6

769

40.0

40

42.5

Transition economies

9

0.6

4

4.3

11

0.6

4

4.1

Developed economies

381

23.4

26

29.7

447

23.2

26

27.7

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

1 163

71.5

52

60.6

1 377

71.6

58

61.7

Developing economies excluding LDCs

1 009

62.0

50

57.4

1 223

63.6

56

59.6

LDCs

223

13.7

6

7.3

238

12.4

7

7.0

LLDCs

3

0.2

1

1.1

3

0.1

1

1.1

SIDS (UNCTAD)

244

15.0

8

8.9

337

17.5

9

9.1

HIPCs (IMF)

214

13.2

5

5.9

231

12.0

6

5.9

BRICS

95

5.8

8

9.3

117

6.1

10

10.4

G20

483

29.7

42

49.0

587

30.5

47

49.9

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2018a); Clarksons Research.

Note: Commercial ships of 100 gt and above; beginning-of-year figures.

Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 2

Fleet ownership and registration, main economies, 1 January 2018

Vessels
(Number of vessels)

Economy of ownership
(Ranked by number
of ships owned)

Flag of registration
(Ranked by number of ships registered)

Panama

China

Marshall Islands

Liberia

Singapore

China, Hong Kong SAR

Malta

World

China

573

3 456

46

48

67

824

25

5 512

Greece

423

0

888

895

38

19

679

4 371

Japan

2 112

0

174

155

125

65

7

3 841

Germany

34

0

137

765

51

21

178

2 869

Singapore

246

1

114

132

1 495

115

14

2 629

United States of America

94

0

384

100

8

59

32

2 073

Norway

61

0

138

64

86

33

83

1 982

Indonesia

18

0

0

5

6

4

0

1 948

Russian Federation

31

0

1

127

2

1

24

1 707

Korea, Republic of

472

0

248

19

2

24

6

1 626

World

6 444

3 513

3 342

3 282

2 641

2 360

2 080

50 732

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2018a); Clarksons Research.

Note: Commercial ships of 1000 gt and above.

Tonnage
(Thousands of dead-weight tons)

Economy of ownership
(Ranked by tonnage owned)

Flag of registration
(Ranked by tonnage registered)

Panama

Marshall Islands

Liberia

China, Hong Kong SAR

Singapore

Malta

China

World

Greece

23 520

65 207

66 519

1 172

3 126

60 913

0

330 176

Japan

137 377

11 278

13 364

3 056

6 907

146

0

223 615

China

21 419

1 776

3 976

58 683

7 327

2 134

82 455

183 094

Germany

1 940

8 805

41 583

1 350

2 449

8 900

0

107 119

Singapore

7 340

7 217

10 213

5 671

63 699

147

2

103 583

China, Hong Kong SAR

9 226

2 754

5 427

72 453

3 492

225

1 217

97 806

Korea, Republic of

35 528

23 113

1 064

1 216

9

179

0

77 277

United States of America

4 088

30 787

9 155

3 797

268

1 083

0

68 932

Norway

3 053

7 299

2 932

5 516

2 008

1 058

0

59 380

Bermuda

2 654

15 213

3 104

7 752

1 004

571

0

54 252

World

335 313

237 807

223 655

181 428

127 644

108 729

83 852

1 910 012

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2018a); Clarksons Research.

Note: Commercial ships of 1 000 gt and above.

Find the data on UNCTADstat