Building, ownership, registration and recycling of ships, 2019(Main specialization)

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2020a), Clarksons Research.
Note: Top three countries in each segment are shown in the default selection. Building and recycling are estimated deliveries and demolitions during 2019. Registration and ownership figures refer to the beginning of the year 2020.

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World fleet development and composition

In January 2020, the world fleet reached a carrying capacity of 2.1 billion dwt, 81 million dwt more than the previous year. Over recent years, tonnage has increased considerably in all segments except general cargo carriers. Bulk carriers recorded an especially rapid increase. Between 2010 and 2020, their share of total carrying capacity rose from 36 to 43 per cent, whereas the share for oil tankers shrank from 35 to 29 per cent and the share for general cargo from 8 to 4 per cent.

Shipbuilding and recycling

In 2019, 93 per cent of global shipbuilding, in terms of tonnage, was located in China, the Republic of Korea and Japan. Of ship recycling, Bangladesh and India accounted for 83 per cent and Turkey accounted for an additional 9 per cent.

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

Source: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2020a); Clarksons Research.
Note: Commercial ships of 100 gt and above. Beginning-of-year figures.

Fleet ownership

As of January 2020, the top five ship-owning economies combined accounted for 52 per cent of world fleet tonnage. Greece held a market share of 18 per cent, followed by Japan (11 per cent), China (11 per cent), Singapore (7 per cent), and Hong Kong SAR (5 per cent). Half of the world’s tonnage was owned by Asian companies. Owners from Europe accounted for 41 per cent and from Northern America for 6 per cent. Companies from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Oceania all had shares of just over one per cent or less.

Figure 2Fleet market size by region of beneficial ownership, 2020 (Millions of dead-weight tons)

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2020a); Clarksons Research.
Note: Commercial ships of 1000 gt and above; beginning-of-year figures.

Major flags of registration

Many commercial ships are registered under a flag that does not match the nationality of the vessel owner. For example, at the beginning of 2020, more than half of all ships owned by Japanese entities were registered in Panama; more than a fifth of the ships owned by Greek entities were registered in Liberia and another fifth in Marshall Islands.

Panama (329 million dwt), Liberia (275 million dwt) and the Marshall Islands (262 million dwt) were the leading flags of registration. Hong Kong SAR and Singapore followed in fourth and fifth place respectively. Among these five, Liberia and the Marshall Islands recorded the strongest increases in registrations over recent years.

Figure 3Vessels capacity in top 5 registries (Millions of dead-weight tons)

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2020a); Clarksons Research..
Note: Commercial ships of 100 gt and above. Beginning-of-year figures. Ranked by the values as of 1 January 2020.

Summary tables

Table 1

Merchant fleet registration by group of economies

Group of economies

2015

2020

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

1 753

100.0

90

100.0

2 069

100.0

98

100.0

Developing economies

1 333

76.1

59

65.6

1 607

77.7

67

68.4

Developing economies: Africa

230

13.1

6

6.9

294

14.2

7

7.6

Developing economies: America

450

25.7

16

17.8

446

21.5

16

16.3

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

654

37.3

37

40.9

867

41.9

44

44.4

Transition economies

11

0.6

4

4.2

12

0.6

4

4.1

Developed economies

405

23.1

25

28.1

447

21.6

26

26.1

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

1 255

71.6

55

61.0

1 506

72.8

61

62.1

Developing economies excluding LDCs

1 104

63.0

53

58.5

1 316

63.6

60

61.2

LDCs

229

13.1

6

7.1

291

14.0

7

7.2

LLDCs

5

0.3

1

1.2

3

0.1

1

1.1

SIDS (UNCTAD)

279

15.9

8

8.8

361

17.5

9

8.9

HIPCs (IMF)

220

12.6

5

5.8

284

13.7

6

6.3

BRICS

106

6.1

9

10.0

134

6.5

12

12.0

G20

527

30.0

45

49.2

612

29.6

50

50.5

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2020a); Clarksons Research.
Note: Commercial ships of 100 gt and above. Figures refer to the beginning of the year.

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Table 2

Fleet ownership and registration, main economies, 1 January 2020

Vessels
(Number of vessels)

Economy of ownership
(Ranked by number
of ships owned)

Flag of registration
(Ranked by number of ships registered)

Panama

China

Liberia

Marshall Islands

Singapore

China, Hong Kong SAR

Indonesia

World

China

617

4 569

113

75

75

921

6

6 869

Greece

469

0

1 021

1 023

29

22

2

4 648

Japan

2 024

0

210

210

155

56

8

3 910

Singapore

288

1

235

139

1 493

138

90

2 861

Germany

30

0

607

119

75

19

0

2 504

Indonesia

18

0

7

2

7

1

2 132

2 208

Norway

43

0

90

129

86

46

4

2 043

United States of America

70

0

93

347

8

43

0

1 933

Russian Federation

36

0

125

0

2

1

0

1 742

China, Hong Kong SAR

297

20

44

65

48

883

3

1 690

World

6 528

4 603

3 686

3 592

2 613

2 425

2 293

52 961

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2020a); 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

Liberia

Marshall Islands

China, Hong Kong SAR

Singapore

Malta

China

World

Greece

26 375

85 396

77 629

1 372

1 832

64 332

0

363 867

Japan

133 322

19 208

13 148

2 947

9 715

573

0

233 195

China

22 970

7 472

4 009

78 238

7 287

2 614

100 269

229 247

Singapore

11 302

16 942

9 689

7 734

74 773

2 243

2

137 396

China, Hong Kong SAR

11 344

5 403

3 399

72 505

4 485

785

149

101 035

Germany

857

33 876

6 235

1 304

3 750

6 723

0

89 412

Korea, Republic of

35 500

1 468

26 208

1 123

10

356

0

80 595

Norway

2 061

5 146

7 840

7 505

4 570

1 370

0

63 985

Bermuda

1 784

6 744

18 156

7 492

1 043

423

0

60 414

United States of America

1 240

6 763

25 884

3 091

335

643

0

57 688

World

328 566

274 842

261 919

201 297

140 145

115 852

100 467

2 051 019

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2020a); Clarksons Research.
Note: Commercial ships of 1000 gt and above.

Find the data on UNCTADstat