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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Where are the tipping points in global trade?

Listen to the latest edition of the Lloyd’s List Podcast — your free weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

Global trade lanes are changing, the multilateralism that has supported globalisation to this point is withering and the digital advances promised to make trade more efficient are not moving fast enough. This week’s edition of the podcast starts a series of conversations about the tipping points in global maritime trade and the implications of the changes occurring


IN a world rife with cascading crises — macro-economic fragmentation, retreating development, multilateralism under attack and of course the defining challenge of the age — climate change — maritime trade serves as a stabilising anchor, holding fast against the turbulent currents of disruption.

But it is changing.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shifted trade lanes — in terms of grain obviously, but it has increased the distances travelled by tankers as the Russian Federation sought new export markets for its cargo and Europe looked for alternative energy suppliers.

The death of deglobalisation may have been overstated, but it is changing.

There are now shifts visible in the data towards various forms of de-risking or supply chain resilience measures. Goods continue to be produced through complex supply chains, but the extent of these chains may have plateaued, at least in the short run. Friend-shoring, near-shoring, reshoring — however you label it, changes in trade lanes are afoot.

The bigger consequences to all this will be a continued fragmentation of global trade norms and a long term challenge to the multilateralism that has defined the rules based order that oversaw globalised trade to this point.

A rise in protectionist policy and regional bloc trade facilitation agreements promises increased fragmentation, uncertainty and complexities.

As we watched with well-founded fear at the events happening in the Middle East this week, it is easy enough to see where the tipping points of immediate change lie. But the longer term developments are more complex and slower to show themselves.

In this week’s podcast we start a conversation around these theses with two experts who offer a compelling view on the challenges ahead. The first is an old friend of the podcast — Jan Hoffmann, Head of the Trade Logistics Branch at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. And he is joined this week by Shamika Sirimanne, who leads UNCTAD’s trade logistics programme.

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