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China Passes Greece as Top Shipowning Nation by Gross Tonnage

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August 14, 2023

(Bloomberg) —

China surpassed Greece as the world’s largest shipowner for the first time in one important metric, cementing its importance in the transport of goods and raw materials across the globe. 

Companies in the world’s second-largest economy now own more vessels based on gross tonnage — a measure of capacity — than any other country. Greece previously held that title since 2013, according to Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a unit of the world’s largest shipbroker. 

China relies on raw materials imported from across the globe to satiate its enormous commodity demand. It’s simultaneously a major exporter of finished goods, often shipped across the globe in container ships. 

Chinese owners are the biggest in both the bulk commodity and container shipping markets, Clarkson said in a report.

Though China is now the largest owner by gross tonnage, it continues to lag Greece by deadweight tonnage, a more closely watched metric. 

The former accounts for the internal volume of a ship, while the latter measures the weight of the goods vessels can carry. 

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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