Extracted 17AUG2011 from http://www.oecd.org/document/9/0,3746,en_2649_37431_47442569_1_1_1_37431,00.html
Maritime transport costs
Ships have moved goods across the world for thousands of years, and today shipping is still essential to international trade. Ninety percent of world trade by volume is carried by ship, and maritime traffic in 2007 was almost double its 2003 level. Operation of merchant ships generated an estimated annual income approaching US$ 380 billion in 2007, equivalent to about five percent of total world trade.
Time spent in transit also has a strong effect on trade. An extra day spent at sea on an average sea voyage of 20 days implies a 4.5% drop in trade in agricultural products between a given pair of trading partners. Not only cost but also efficiency in getting agricultural goods to market are therefore important factors in explaining trade flows.
OECD analysis confirms that the longer the time required for trade transactions, the greater the tendency for trade volumes to be reduced. Lengthy procedures for exports and imports reduce the probability that firms will enter export markets for time-sensitive products at all.
Labour-intensive products such as clothing and consumer electronics are increasingly time-sensitive and many countries urgently need to shorten lead time in order to stay competitive in these sectors. With the proliferation of modern supply chain management in manufacturing as well as retailing, a broader range of products are becoming time-sensitive.