China has become the world’s top shipowning nation by fleet value, displacing longtime leader Japan, according to consultancy VesselsValue.
Since January, the country has seen the total value of its shipping assets rise to $191 billion, driven by the recent surge in rates and values of container ships. This value increase was precipitated by a worldwide container capacity crisis, and its ripple effects have been disrupting supply chains and trade around the world.
Japan, which has fallen to second position, owns a total of $187 billion in assets - an increase of more than $70 billion since January. Its rising asset values have been driven by the booming bulker, LPG and vehicle carrier markets.
“China owns the largest number of container [ships] and, consequently, the recent surge in rates and values has moved them up the ranks to top spot in terms of fleet value,” said VesselsValue in its latest report.
The report added that the increase in rates has also prompted an ordering spree across the container sector as owners’ confidence in the market rises. A total of 516 container ships have been ordered since January 2021, and 46 percent of these orders were placed by Chinese companies.
In addition, the significant increase in bulker rates since the beginning of the year - with the Capesize 54-TCA increasing from $16,656 to a peak of $86,953 in October - nearly doubled the total value of China’s bulker fleet over the past 10 months, from $28 billion to $53 billion.
The Chinese state, through its ownership of China COSCO Shipping and China State Shipbuilding Corporation, is already the world's largest shipowner and shipbuilder by tonnage. COSCO controls about 1,370 ships with a total capacity of about 114 million dwt, roughly five percent of the world's total tonnage.