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Review of Maritime Transport 2003 — India down a notch

Santanu Sanyal

India, with 385 vessels, moved down by a place compared to the ranking on January 1, 2002, when it had 411 ships. The country's total tonnage is, now 11,780,018 dwt, or 1.55 per cent of world tonnage.

AMONG the 35 most important maritime countries and territories of the world, India, with a total of 385 vessels totalling 10,510,327 deadweight tonnage (dwt), is ranked 16th as on January 1, 2003, according to the Review of Maritime Transport 2003 released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).

During the period, the number of vessels under the national flag was 344 totalling 9,376,986 dwt and under foreign flag 41 vessels totalling 1,133,341 dwt. The foreign flag vessels, thus, accounted for 10.78 per cent of the country's total tonnage. India's share in the world total was 1.37 per cent.

India's position moved down by one place compared to the ranking on January 1, 2002, when the country's number of vessels was 411, comprising 363 under national flag (10,202,571 dwt) and 48 under foreign flag (1,577,447 dwt), the total tonnage, thus, coming to 11,780,018 dwt or 1.55 per cent of the total world tonnage. The share of the foreign flag in the country's total tonnage was, thus, 13.39 per cent.

The other countries which moved down by one place during the period, include the US, the UK, the Philippines and Indonesia. The 35 countries which the Unctad Review covered in 2002 accounted for 94.9 per cent of the world merchant fleet, the same percentage as in the previous year.

In 2001, Croatia (109 vessels, 2,412,509 dwt) ranked 35th, the position occupied by Chile (90 vessels, 2,227,253 dwt) in 2002. Several countries upped their positions during 2002.

The Islamic Republic of Iran (153 vessels 7,094,090 dwt) and Switzerland (237 vessels, 7 000 968 dwt) moved up by four places, the Netherlands (784 vessels 7 201 900 dwt) by three places and Canada (327 vessels 5,987,135 dwt) and Monaco (103 vessels, 3,133,767 dwt) by two places each.

Monaco has no national flag carrier as all its vessels are under foreign flag. China (2321 vessels, 44,303,603 dwt), Singapore (714 vessels, 19,391,910 dwt), Saudi Arabia (121vessels, 11,010,614 dwt), Cyprus (68 vessels, 2,793,309 dwt) and Croatia moved up by one place each.

Greece (3,103 vessels, 149,860,803 dwt), Japan (2,910 vessels, 104,396,439 dwt) and Norway (872 vessels, 58,097,607 dwt) continued to occupy the first three positions (in that order) in 2002 as in 2001.

The Unctad Review reveals that registration under foreign flags continued in 2002, but its growth was slow.

The total tonnage registered under foreign flags in 2002 increased to 465.8 million dwt, representing 64 per cent of the 35 countries' total fleet compared to 462.5 million dwt or 64.1 per cent in 2001.

In 2002, 13 developing countries (including Hong Kong China but excluding Taiwan China) out of the total 35 surveyed had 47 per cent of their total tonnage registered under foreign flags.

However, there were differences among the countries concerned. Thus, the foreign registries of Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong amounted to 91.6 per cent and 65 per cent, respectively, while the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kuwait and the Philippines only 3.2 per cent, 7 per cent and 15.5 per cent, respectively.

For developed market-economy countries, the share of foreign registered tonnage was 70.2 per cent in 2002 compared to 71.8 per cent in 2001.

The Unctad Review points out that the share of the world merchant fleet in major open registries contracted by 4.7 per cent in 2002 after expanding by 1.7 per cent in 2001. This was largely because of the changes in fiscal rules of developed countries and detection of certain irregularities in open registries.

The total tonnage registered in 2002 in six major open registry countries such as Panama, Liberia, Bahamas, Malta, Cyprus and Bermuda decreased by 4.6 per cent to 356.1 million dwt from 373.5 million dwt in the previous year when the tonnage had expanded by 1 per cent. Panama continued to lead the list in 2002 in spite of fleet contraction of 3.4 million dwt or2 per cent.

Liberia's fleet contracted by 6.6 per cent. The combined tonnage of Panama and Liberia accounted for 66.5 per cent of the total tonnage of the six major open registry countries.

In 2002, Malta decreased its fleet by 13.1 per cent to 36.6 million dwt while Bermuda's tonnage dropped substantially by 22.2 per cent to 6.3 million dwt. The tonnage of two other major open registry countries, namely, the Bahamas and Cyprus, declined by about two per cent.

An analysis by type of vessels for the six major open registries indicate that the share of the tanker tonnage to the total tonnage increased to 37.7 per cent in 2002 from 35.3 per cent in 2001, while dry bulk tonnage share was maintained at 40.8 per cent.

For six major open registries, the combined tonnage of these two types of vessels, thus, accounted for 78.5 per cent of their total deadweight.

Some of the minor open registries are located in developing countries of America ( St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda) and one in Oceania (Vanuatu) while others are located in developed market-economy countries of Europe ( Cayman Island, Luxembourg and Gibraltar).

A few developing countries such as Belize, Honduras and Sri Lanka also have open registries albeit with limited coverage, indicates the Unctad Review.

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