Issues, Challenges and National Policies
Comparative Perspectives on Transportation Security series
Edited by Khalid Bichou, Joseph S. Szyliowicz and Luca Zamparini
Chapter 8: US maritime security policy: achievements and challenges
Although merchants and traders have engaged in international trade for centuries, the level of such trade has increased dramatically over time and, in recent years, has come to play a dominant role in the economic wellbeing of nations. These changes in the international economy can be attributed to developments such as the end of the Cold War, the liberalization of economies and the impact of technology. Advances in transportation and communications technology have made for greater and easier movement of both goods and people. Of particular significance has been the widespread adoption of the use of containers for transporting goods rather than loading and unloading individual items of cargo, which caused costs to decrease exponentially. Today an estimated 200 million containers travel around the world annually. The scope and scale of the global maritime system can best be illustrated by a few statistics: 80 percent of world trade by value and 90 percent of volume is sea trade; 4000 ports ship cargo around the world; 46,000 ships are engaged in international trade including about 3000 container vessels, the largest of which carries more than 10,000 20 foot equivalents. The impact of these developments can be seen in US trade figures. According to the International Trade Administration, US imports have grown from $22 billion in 1960 to $1263.9 billion in 2004, exports from $25.1 billion to $1146.1.
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