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Danish shipping companies handle around 7 percent of total world tonnage and transport 10 percent of the world’s seaborne trade.

Moreover, Danish shipping companies’ share of the value of the world’s seaborne trade corresponds to more than USD 900 billion or ten times the value of total Danish exports. Consequently, Danish shipping companies are important players in global shipping and as mediators of international trade.

The three largest segments of Danish shipping are tankers, container vessels and bulkers. Together these three segments account for nearly 60 percent of the number of ships owned by Danish shipping companies and more than 95 percent of their cargo carrying capacity.

The proportions and experiences of Danish shipping companies have made them global frontrunners in making sea transport as efficient, safe and environmentally friendly as possible. Danish shipping companies have developed successful business models that address the specific focus areas and challenges of their market segments and give the companies competitive advantages.

The cases from the shipping industry represent examples of different initiatives from specially designed vessels, safety procedures to installation of environmental performance systems. These cases again represent the different segments of the shipping industry. The cases from the tanker segment focus on ensuring safety and increasing energy efficiency. The former is motivated by the severe environmental consequences of accidents involving tankers. The latter by the fact that the tankers typically steam at high speed in order to deliver the cargo and then reload at another destination. Therefore shipping companies aim at optimizing the operation time and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

The case from the container business segment explains how investments in new vessels can help increase port productivity, lower costs and thereby increase trade – while at the same time reducing emissions. This is particularly challenging in developing countries where poor port infrastructure and low capacity often prevent the efficiency advantage of large container ships to materialise. The cases from companies in the bulk segment are focusing on the needs to respond efficiently and flexibly to the technical challenges that arise when handling dry bulk cargo in the world’s different ports and terminals. This is relevant because dry bulk carriers operate in the tramp regime, which means that the ships and their operators must be flexible to remain efficient.

World view on shipping

Benefits of international trade given in terms of economic growth and employment creation are self-evident and indisputable. Gains from trade do not only accrue to rich countries. Reduced trade costs and increased imports of intermediate goods also stimulate productivity, innovation and competitiveness in developing countries.

But international trade can only take place if the transport costs are low enough to make trade desirable, making highly efficient modes of transport vital. Sea transport is by far the cheapest compared to air and land transport and sea transport also has lower emissions. And for many commodities, such as coal and iron ore, it is the only feasible way of transport in an economic and environmental sense. Today, sea transport accounts for 70 percent of total transport in terms of value and 90 percent in terms of volume.