Shipping Containers Contribution to Globalization

 In Did You Know, Shipping containers, Transportation

“With nearly 20 million containers constantly in motion around the world, the humble container has become an integral part of our lives.” Andrew Curry, reporter.

Did you know the shipping container industry had one of the biggest impacts on globalization as we know it today?

The introduction of shipping containers made it possible to drive the cost of international shipping down, dramatically impacting the global commercial economy.

Rose George, author of Ninety Percent of Everything, a book that takes a deep dive into the “invisible industry” of shipping containers wrote, “These ships and boxes belong to a business that feeds, clothes, warms, and supplies us. They have fueled if not created globalization. They are the reason behind your cheap T-shirt and reasonably priced television.”

History of Shipping Containers and What’s Next

While shipping goods over the ocean for trade is not a new concept, it wasn’t until the introduction of shipping containers that companies could ship mass quantities, driving down the cost of shipping goods.

In the 1830’s, several European countries used containers, in the form of timber boxes, to ship goods from one place to another. “Beginning in 1929, Seatrain Lines carried railroad boxcars on its sea vessels to transport goods between New York and Cuba.”

ISO standards for containers were published by the International Maritime Organization during 1968 and 1970, allowing for the consistent loading, transporting and unloading of goods. Since then, trade by sea has grown more than fourfold. “Before containers, transport costs ate as much as 25 per cent of the value of whatever was being shipped…a sweater can now travel 3,000 miles for 2.5 cents; it costs a cent to send a can of beer,” writes George.

The standardization of the industry significantly decreased the time and money it traditionally took to ship commercial, positioning the industry up for expansive growth and opportunity.  

In 2011 the 360 commercial ports of America took in goods worth $1.73 trillion, or 80 times the value of all American trade in 1960” (George).

While demand for shipping containers has slowed in recent years due to a decrease in the global economy, shipping container fleets are projected to grow around 3.1 percent in 2017—an encouraging sign for the global shipping container industry.

In need of a shipping container solution? Reach out to one of our knowledgeable staff members today.


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