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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Humpert and Raspotnik
the country’s northeast region. Thus, it is important to take into account considerations related to
state behavior, including the potential of Iceland to become an Arctic trans-shipment hub.
Geopolitical Uncertainties
The future development of Arctic shipping
routes will not only depend on favorable
climatic conditions across the Arctic Ocean,
but will also be influenced by a lasting shift
in economic, geographic, and political
spheres of influence (Blunden, 2012). Asia’s
growing appetite for raw materials and
hydrocarbon resources and China’s rise as
the world’s largest exporter of manufactured
goods and second-largest importer of
globally shipped goods, may trigger a gradual but lasting shift in the global trade dynamics and world
trade patterns (Campbell, 2012). Nearly half of China’s gross GDP is thought to be dependent on
shipping (Weijie, 2003). By 2030 China will dominate global trade along “17 of the top 25 bilateral
sea and air freight trade routes” (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2011a: 1). In 2010 Chinese mainland
ports increased their share of total world container throughput to 24.2% (UNCTAD, 2011: XV)
further strengthening their participation in global maritime businesses.
Arctic transit routes represent a new link between European and Asian markets at a time when
traditional transit routes through the Panama and Suez Canal are approaching their carrying capacity.
World trade is expected to grow by three quarters by 2025 (HSBC, 2011) and the world cargo fleet is
forecasted to grow by around 25% before the end of the decade, from 77,500 vessels in 2008 to
more than 100,000 vessels above 500 deadweight tonnage (dwt) by 2018, further increasing the risk
of traffic congestion and accidental collisions (Ministry of Economy Poland, 2009: 109). Existing
trade routes between Europe and Asia pass through a number of strategic choke points from the
Strait of Malacca to the Strait of Hormuz rendering world trade routes vulnerable to accidental or
deliberate disruptions along these keyholes.