The shipping industry is one of the most important around in terms of world trade and business. As such, it is always important to look ahead when each new year begins and also see how the previous year went. Looking back to 2018, it is fair to say that lots happened and it was 12 months that saw plenty of news within the sector.

Perhaps the biggest news was the trade wars between the US and a few other countries such as China that affected shipping. This prompted the WTO to amend the figure for world merchandise trade volume growth to 3.9% in 2018. Although financial tightening and geopolitical tensions made it not all plain sailing for shipping in the previous 12 months, there was also good news.

Seaborne trade on a global scale was predicted to expand by almost 4% into the future, based on what 2018 saw in the sector. 2018 also saw some shipping lines do more in terms of protecting the planet by using biofuel in their ships. Digital technology also began to make more of an impact in shipping and freight in 2018 as it was adopted by more companies to provide a better service to customers.

Looking back at 2018 is relatively easy compared to predicting the trends that shipping will see in 2019. But what are industry experts advising may happen in this key global industry?

Big shipping companies will continue to push on

What does seem a fairly safe 2019 prediction in shipping is that the big commercial shipping companies will continue to be successful.

Prime among these will be the Capital Maritime & Trading Corp led by world-famous entrepreneur Evangelos Marinakis. Since being founded in 2005, this huge shipping company has led the way in shipping goods worldwide and reacting to changing conditions in the sector. It seems that this will only continue in 2019 as Marinakis uses his proven leadership skills to help Capital meet any challenges that could crop up.

What else may happen in 2019 for shipping?

If you are keen to know what other shipping news may be big in 2019, the below should give a flavour of what may occur:

  • Brexit to make an impact – one certain bet for shipping and business in 2019 is that Brexit will have some kind of global impact on it. The problem for shipping lines is that no one is sure what it will be or what arrangements they need to make for it! As the UK and Europe are still thrashing out a deal and people worry about there being no deal at all, the real issue is being able to plan for what Brexit could mean for global business.
  • Consolidation across the sector – many shipping insiders feel that 2019 could well see a period of quiet consolidation for the industry. With looming issues such as Brexit and more pressure to ship in an eco-friendly way, it seems that many in the sector will be happy to look after what they have for now and conserve their money.
  • Increase in premium services for customers – one trend that many think 2019 will usher in for shipping is a greater emphasis put on customer service. While this has been a trend happening already in recent times, 2019 could see it really ramped up to help generate more revenue. Look out for more shipping companies offering premium services such as faster unloading times and guaranteed loadings to make more money.
  • Blockchain will make a real impact – as we have already noted, digital technology has begun to make its presence felt in shipping. 2019 will probably see Blockchain technology adopted by more shipping lines to increase efficiency and provide better service to customers. From dealing with letters of credits to handling payments, this and other tech such as the Internet of Things is set to really shine in 2019.
  • Southeast Asia to become a major player China has been the world factory for goods that ship around the world for years now. Could 2019 see Southeast Asia assume this mantle though? Rising labour and transport costs have begun to eat into China’s market share and prompt businesses to look elsewhere. With deep sea ports and easy access, Southeast Asia could become the major player globally and be a place where more shipping companies begin to visit.

2019 will be a big year for shipping

Although accurately predicting what 2019 will bring for the shipping industry and business in general is tough, one thing is for sure – it is likely to be exciting and fast-moving. With major political issues such as Brexit still being resolved and other factors coming into play, the sector is sure to see a year that throws up many surprises and challenges. Of course, with shipping being such a vibrant and important global industry, it is perfectly placed to overcome this and carry on in great health.