Newton Fund: Developing an International Trade and Shipping Database and a Study on Port and Shipping Efficiency

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources


There is a large body of literature stressing the importance of transport costs and infrastructure in determining trade flows, and by correlation economic development (Clark, Dollar and Micco (2004), Limao and Venables (2001), Martinez-Zarzoso and Suárez-Burguet (2005)).

In conjunction with increased trade liberalisation in Brazil (applied tariff rates in 2012 are 25% of 1989 levels), transport costs become the most prominent non-artificial trade barrier associated with Brazil's growth of exports: It costs twice as much to export a container from Brazil compared to OECD countries and nearly twice as much compared to the average Latin American and Caribbean country. It takes 13 days and 6 documents to export a commodity, two days and two documents more than OECD countries. Of these figures, 3 days are allocated to port and terminal handling amounting to a fixed cost of 500 US Dollars per shipment, twice the amount of Germany's port costs. Similar magnitudes apply for importing procedures (World Bank Doing Business (2014)).

As more than 80% of Brazil's exports is carried by sea (Ministry of Industry Development and Foreign Trade (2010)) and port efficiency appears to have the largest impact on trade among all indicators of infrastructure (Nordas and Piermartini (2004)), the necessity of improving port infrastructure and reduce shipping costs is inherently linked to development via export growth.

This project will see collaboration between UCL and Universidad Federal do Rio de Janeiro. It intends to quantify the impact of port infrastructure and the cost of shipping on Brazil's exports, proposing responses to ameliorate these costs. Our approach is novel since we are going to combine trade data and information from port authorities with ship's satellite positioning data. This will provide a unique dataset in which we will be able to identify origin and destination of ships, time of each journey, ships' idle time at ports, ship's cargo at port destinations in the USA and the cost of shipping from country of origin to the port of destination in the USA.

The project will consist of visits and research exchanges (both UK to Brazil and Brazil to UK) in order to enable sharing of data and resources. This will enable the two research groups to build strong collaborative links and undertake knowledge exchange.

This project will deploy the research in a number of stakeholder engagement workshops, attended by representatives from each partner's research groups. The workshops will bring together policy makers, lawyers, shipping operators and other relevant stakeholders to further our understanding of the issues connecting shipping with trade and economic development, and enable us to share the research findings.

Planned Impact

This project will also provide a key international link for the research collaboration underway in the project Shipping in Changing Climates, a UK government (RCUK Energy programme) funded project that connects five UK university partners with a number of shipping stakeholders (Shell, Rolls-Royce, Lloyd's Register, BMT and MSI). This project will both enable the Brazilian partner to leverage the work undertaken by the Shipping in Changing Climates research team, and provide an international pathway to impact for that project helping to increase impact and disseminate its outputs.
Description We developed a new approach for exploring specific shipping emission drivers. Using Brazil as a case study, link per vessel cargo composition data derived from shipping manifest data and bill of lading, individual vessel journeys from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and a bottom-up methodology from Third IMO GHG Study (2015) to estimate shipping emissions.

In the case of Brazil, the study found that the maritime transportation associated with these trades is responsible for 25.99 million tonnes of CO2. To put this into perspective, this amounts to 5% of Brazil's total CO2 emissions from 2014 (reported by the World Bank, currently excluding international shipping and aviation). Over 90% of Brazil's maritime exports is made up of 8 key commodity groups and transported to 28 countries, which illustrates Brazil's nature of being a major exporter of commodities in bulk of relatively low value, to major production countries and/or transhipment hubs. By analysing commodity- and voyage-specific emissions in conjunction, the above-described strong allocation to a very limited number of products and actors became evident.

The above finding is directly linked to the the economic development and welfare of Brazil as it helps to create a link between key export commodities (revenue for the country) and it's impact on emissions, which would have a local and global impact.
Exploitation Route This work has left many questions unanswered, e.g. the root causes of the delays in ports and its impact on export competitiveness. Further economic analysis is required to unpack these research questions.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Transport

Description We have continued to engage with Brazil, with whom it is important to continue to be in bilateral discussions given their importance at the UN IMO GHG emissions discussions. We have also renewed our collaboration with the Instituto Clima e Sociedade (iCS) who organised a shipping GHG-focused event in November 2018 in Rio at which we presented. This trip to Rio de Janeiro allowed us to make some useful connections both within the civil society and academic space in Brazil, but also within the Brazilian IMO delegation, and to meet iCS' new shipping person Lavinia Hollanda. We have offered her our support in navigating the IMO and shipping space and hope to be working together closely in the future. Our assistance and participation has helped Brazil to address SDG 13 (Climate Action), specifically related to maritime activities.
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description LNG and alternative fuels
Amount $70,000 (USD)
Organisation World Bank Group 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 11/2019 
End 05/2020
Title Brazil to US trade and shipping 
Description A set of trade data connected with a set of ship movement data, the dataset is still under development 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact understanding the connection between transport demand and shipping activity and the potential for Brazilian infrastructure investments to improve economic efficiency and reduce shipping emissions. 
Description A comparison of Brazil-USA port infrastructure and its implications for trade, transport costs and emissions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Dr Nicholas Lazarou presented at the Workshop on Brazil's trade, transport costs and shipping greenhouse gas emissions organised by UCL in Brazil
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Shipping's GHG emissions: The post COP21 seascape 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Isabelle Rojon (UMAS) and Dr Nicholas Lazarou presented at an invite only workshop organised in Brazil looking at emissions from Shipping
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Workshop on Brazil's trade, transport costs and shipping greenhouse gas emissions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The workshop brought together a diverse group of experts to examine the nexus between Brazil's economic development/trade, transport costs, ocean transportation and resultant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016