Starting with a review of structural shifts in world trade driven largely by new technologies and a need to improve the environment, changes in the shipping industry are examined. Three key research themes are identified. The first relates to the best use of information technology to improve the transparency, accuracy, security and speed of the document exchange that facilitates international maritime trade. The second concerns the optimisation of the fuel mix used by shipping to achieve evolving environmental constraints and economic goals. The third relates to the implications for shipping, ports and supply chains of the eventual automation of ships.