In the second decade of this century, the traditional link between world economic growth and international trade seemed to be drastically challenged, as international and industry bodies pointed out. This chapter queries the recent demand environment for aspects which could signal a long-term challenge to the “growth-to-trade” conversion rate. The authors first review the impressive, yet temporary as it proved, 21st-century developments between gross domestic product (GDP), trade and shipping demand growth before the 2008 financial crisis; they then analyse emerging trends which could have impacted on the growth-to-trade conversion over the period that followed. To test the significance of such underlying factors, the authors model seaborne trade on variables reflecting changes in economic growth and in the material content of production. Conclusions summarize the impact of the dematerialization of world economic growth on shipping demand prospects as shown by the statistical significance of changes in the share of services in global GDP.
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