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IMAGE # 11. A loaded container ship

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IMAGE # 11 A loaded container shipWhat is this image?

A loaded container ship

What global issue does this image relate to?

International Trade
Environmental impacts - container ships


International Trade

International trade is the exchange of capital, services and goods between countries. The trading of goods is a major source of revenue for most countries and so has an impact on the economic, social and political well being of a country.

Humans have traded goods and services since long before recorded history, however improved transportation, communication and the integration of countries economies has given rise to a significant increase in international trade.

The World Trade Organization (WTO), established in 1995, is an international body that aims to:

  • liberalise and promote the growth of world trade,
  • provide a forum for governments to negotiate trade deals,
  • establish rules of trade between countries and
  • settle trade disputes.

Since 2008, there have been 153 member countries of the WTO.

Some countries place restrictions such as tariffs on international trade in order to protect their industries and businesses. Such a policy is termed protectionism. Other countries, particularly those with strong economies, advocate a free trade policy, that is trade free from government interference.

The Australian Government supports the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that are consistent with the WTO rules and guidelines and which complement and reinforce the multilateral (involving multiple countries) trading system. To view some facts about Australian trade visit:

Environmental impacts - Container ships

There has been a considerable increase in the number of container ships transporting goods by sea. More cargo/goods is the result of a dramatic rise in international trade. The increased size of container ships has led to the building of mega ports and the deepening of water channels by dredging. Concerns have been raised about the environmental impacts of dredging on marine ecosystems, such as the recent dredging of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. Concern has also been raised that these large ships are emitters of CO2 (a giant diesel engine can emit more than 300,000 tonnes of CO2 year).

Data suggests that just 15 of the world’s largest ships may emit as much pollution as the the world’s total of 760 million cars. It is estimated that there were 90,000 ocean-going cargo ships in 2009.

Useful links:

International Trade

The World Trade Organisation is an international body that deals with the rules of trade between countries.

Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Global issues website. Information on Trade, Economy and related issues.

Environmental impacts- container ships

Overview of the Channel Deepening Project, Environment Protection Authority Victoria

Blue Wedges, environmental lobby group, Blue Wedges speaking out for Port Phillip Bay


Global Citizen

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