The water transportation (Deep-Sea, Coastal & Inland) market has been forecast to increase at an annualised rate of 4.5% over the next five years, increasing from a value of $166.1 billion in 2013 to reach a total of $207.1 billion by 2018.
An extreme decline over the past five years has been avoided as increased shipping activity has aided companies in the industry.
Years of rapid growth through 2007 appear to be at an end and future demand is contingent on the ongoing economic recovery.
The industry has undergone some extreme changes in the past five years, particularly in 2008 and 2009. During those years, major companies placed ambitious orders for new ships as they struggled to build their capacity to meet demand.
Once the demand fell, however, shipping lines cut routes and staff and many pulled some of their fleet out of the water to remain viable during the downturn.
During 2009, as much as 10.0% of the world's container shipping fleet was not in active service, pushing down industry revenue 17.0% in the year.
After a rebound in 2010, uncertain economic conditions have encouraged low inventory levels on the part of the industry's clients, and this has left the industry with more capacity than is required to meet demand.
In 2013, the top four players were estimated to account for more than half of global industry revenue.
Major players must be truly global to be competitive, and the top competitors include AP Moller - Maersk A/S, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Carnival Corporation, Neptune Orient Lines and Hapag-Lloyd AG.
Beyond the major players, the market is fragmented with a large number of small regional players or family-owned operations, especially in the coastal and inland water transportation segments.
The industry's strength is dependent on strong global growth and continuing globalisation. The threat of a collapse in the eurozone or a double-dip global recession remains real.
However, the industry will remain an integral part of the global economy and is expected to benefit from greater shipping activity.
For more information on the water transportation market, see the latest research: Water Transportation Market
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