On a blustery winter morning, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin joined his Danish and Ecuadorean colleagues on the St. Petersburg docks to celebrate the arrival of bananas on an inaugural Maersk Line call from South America to Russia.
"This is not simply the opening of a new intercontinental line," Putin told Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and Ecuadorean Miniater of Industry Xavier Abad Vicuna after they climbed to the top of the Maersk Niamey, which had carried 600 containers of bananas from Ecuador. "This creates new opportunities for business, trade and investment in its broadest sense."
The inaugural voyage of the Maersk Niamey to the Port of St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea marked one more step in the increasing global reach of Latin American trade. Despite the economic crisis that walloped global trade in 2009--most container cargo carriers had their worst year since the modern cargo transportation mode was invented--renewed demand for trade allowed ocean cargo carriers to open a new sea lane between Latin America and an emerging market.
Putin cited hopes that bypassing transshipments through Europe will reduce tropical fruit costs in Russia, where fresh bananas were once so expensive they were reserved for holiday celebrations in December.
Tom Hyldelund, managing director of ZAO Maersk in Russia, said the liner company was motivated by client demand for tropical fruits. Maersk's ECUBEX service deploys six new and smaller cargo ships that make the Guayaquil-Balboa-Rotterdam-St. Petersburg crossing in 22 days. But beyond bananas, Hyldelund said the new service "will give Russian exporters a unique opportunity to develop trade connections between Russia and South America."
The new shipping route was just one sign of a rebound in global trade that is expected to expand by 10 percent this year, according to the World Trade Organization. Furthermore, the recovery is led by developing countries and emerging markets like Brazil, China and Russia, said the Geneva-based WTO. Developing countries are expected to post an 11 percent increase in trade volumes in 2010, compared with 7.5 percent in industrialized nations.
World trade fell by 12 percent in 2009, one of the steepest declines in recent history and a greater contraction than the 9 percent originally forecast for the year. Although the economies in Latin America and the Caribbean declined by 3.6 percent, the region is expected to post economic growth of 4...