International shipping makes the world go round

The world revolves around trade and deliveries. Olden-day merchants were the first tycoons, making very healthy livings out of buying, selling and shipping goods. Their wealth helped build some of the UK’s biggest and best-known cities, among them London, Liverpool, Cardiff, Hull and Plymouth.

Port cities have always been a magnet for people looking to escape the daily drudgery of their lives in the one-time dirty and decidedly unhealthy major conurbations further inland. The belief that sea air had health benefits, along with the reality that these huge ports relied on massive amounts of manual labour to carry out their daily work brought in people in their droves.

The arrival of large-scale mechanisation changed much of that, but the cranes, trains and trucks have not completely diminished the role of the country’s major ports as the arrival points of goods from all over the world. The need for places where the largest ships on the seas can dock and load and offload their cargoes is as great as ever, especially for helping the UK meet its need for the coal and other raw materials which keep the home fires burning – literally.

But the variety of the goods transported by ship has also rapidly increased. Everything from computers to cars, and toy trucks to the real thing arrives on our shores from its country of origin through one of our major ports, many of which are handling more cargo than ever. And the profit figures released by many of the world’s biggest shipping companies for the first half of 2010 suggested that sea freight was in the vanguard of leading the world’s major economies out of their slump.

Major shipping companies such as AG Moeller Maersk, Mitsui OSK and CMA CGM reported that their revenues for the first half of the year were substantially up on the same period for the previous year, proving that businesses were restocking their shelves, and preparing for a busier year. Such indicators are widely seen as an important bellweather for the state of the rest of the economy – as more goods are transported, it shows that demand is increasing, which in turn tells manufacturers that they should be prepared to step up their efforts to meet these higher levels of business. And further along the supply chain, that also means more work for the delivery companies which are a vital cog in the wheel ensuring that suppliers have the goods which their customers require.

International freight plays a vital role in a world where trade is truly global. And finding the right shipping service for every need helps businesses to keep down their costs, and so remain competitive.