Water Transport Market

Water Transport Market Size, Share, Trends, Growth, and Industry Analysis, By Type (Inland Water Transport, Deep Sea, Coastal, And Great Lakes), By Application (Offshore, Onshore) Regional Analysis and Forecast 2032.

Automobile & Transportation | April 2024 | Report ID: EMR00790 | Pages: 259

Global Water Transport market is predicted to reach approximately USD 982.99 billion by 2032, at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2024 to 2032.


The global water transport industry involves the movement of goods and people across bodies of water using ships, boats, and barges. This industry includes both the transportation of goods and passengers, serving a variety of sectors such as trade, tourism, and logistics. Water transport is essential for the global economy as it offers a cost-effective way to transport bulky goods over long distances. With the growth of globalization and trade, the demand for water transport services is increasing, leading to advancements in infrastructure and technology in the sector.

Over the past few years, the worldwide water transportation industry has experienced consistent expansion due to various factors like the increase in global trade, higher need for energy sources, and a rise in tourism. This sector is made up of a variety of participants such as shipping companies, cruise providers, port administrators, and logistics businesses. Advances in technology have also greatly improved the effectiveness and security of water transportation activities, with innovations like automation, digitization, and environmentally friendly propulsion systems becoming more widespread.

The water transport market is expected to keep growing despite challenges like regulatory compliance, environmental concerns, and geopolitical tensions. This growth is driven by the increasing global connectivity and the demand for sustainable transportation solutions. The market is shifting towards more sustainable practices, with a focus on reducing emissions and using eco-friendly technologies like LNG-powered vessels and electric propulsion systems. In addition, the advancement of effective port facilities and the widening of navigable water routes are also contributing to the industry's growth.


Global Water Transport report scope and segmentation.

Report Attribute


Estimated Market Value (2023)

USD 572.04 Billion

Projected Market Value (2032)

USD 982.99 Billion

Base Year


Forecast Years

2024 – 2032

Scope of the Report

Historical and Forecast Trends, Industry Drivers and Constraints, Historical and Forecast Market Analysis by Segment- Based on By Type, By Application, & Region.

Segments Covered

By Type, By Application, & By Region.

Forecast Units

Value (USD Million or Billion), and Volume (Units)

Quantitative Units

Revenue in USD million/billion and CAGR from 2024 to 2032.

Regions Covered

North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa.

Countries Covered

U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, GCC Countries, and South Africa, among others.

Report Coverage

Market growth drivers, restraints, opportunities, Porter’s five forces analysis, PEST analysis, value chain analysis, regulatory landscape, market attractiveness analysis by segments and region, company market share analysis.

Delivery Format

Delivered as an attached PDF and Excel through email, according to the purchase option.


Global Water Transport dynamics

One major factor driving the market is the interaction between international trade patterns and economic trends. Changes in global trade volumes, influenced by shifts in consumer preferences, political tensions, and trade deals, have a direct impact on the need for water transport services. Moreover, the economic situation in key trading areas affects shipping operations, with periods of economic expansion usually leading to higher trade levels and a greater demand for sea transportation.

One important trend in the industry is the continuous technological advancements being made. These improvements in ship design, propulsion, navigation, and digitalization are leading to more efficient operations and influencing the competitive market. For example, the use of automated and remote monitoring systems is making processes smoother and cutting down on labour expenses for ship owners. Additionally, there is a growing focus on sustainability driving the creation of environmentally friendly solutions like alternative fuels and emissions-reducing technologies in response to regulations and environmental concerns.

The latest technological improvements are not only making operations more efficient, but they are also helping the industry reduce its impact on the environment. The interaction between economic conditions, advancements in technology, and changes in regulations is constantly influencing the direction of the global water transport market, impacting strategies and investments industry-wide.


Global Water Transport drivers

  • Globalization and International Trade

The growing integration of economies across the globe plays a major role in shaping the water transport industry. The increase in international trade due to globalization has heightened the need for maritime transportation services. Businesses are expanding their reach into new markets and sourcing materials from different areas, relying on efficient and affordable modes of transport. Water transport is preferred for its cost-effectiveness in moving large quantities of goods over extensive distances. Additionally, the implementation of free trade agreements and the establishment of new trade routes are bolstering the demand for maritime shipping services, contributing to the market's growth.

  • Technological Advancements

Water transportation is being transformed by continuous technological advancements, which are boosting efficiency and competitiveness. Innovations in vessel design, propulsion systems, and digitalization are allowing shipping companies to streamline their operations, cut down on fuel usage, and lessen their environmental footprint. The implementation of digital navigation tools and automation systems is enhancing safety and precision in navigation, while the creation of environmentally-friendly propulsion technologies like LNG and hydrogen fuel cells is addressing environmental issues and meeting regulatory standards. In addition, connecting Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data analysis enables live tracking of how ships are performing and the status of the cargo. This makes it easier to make decisions and improve efficiency throughout the supply chain.



  • Environmental Regulations and Sustainability Challenges

Strict environmental laws that aim to reduce emissions and lessen pollution are a big hurdle for the water transport industry. Meeting regulations like the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) sulphur cap rules means spending a lot on eco-friendly technologies and fuels, which raises operating expenses for shipping companies. On top of that, worries about the environmental harm caused by maritime operations, such as oil spills, ballast water dumping, and underwater noise pollution, are pushing the industry to embrace greener practices and technologies, even if it means more costs and operational challenges.

  • Geopolitical Instability and Trade Disputes

Geopolitical tensions and trade disputes have the potential to disturb global supply chains and impede the efficient operation of the water transport market. Political instability, territorial disagreements, and trade barriers introduce unpredictability and fluctuation, impacting shipping paths, port activities, and trade quantities. For instance, trade tensions between significant economies like the United States and China may result in increased tariffs and trade limitations, changing trade routes and decreasing the need for maritime transportation services on influenced paths. Moreover, geopolitical risks such as piracy, terrorism, and regional conflicts pose security threats to vessels and crew, necessitating additional security measures and increasing operational risks and costs for shipping companies.



  • Infrastructure Development and Port Expansion

The growing need for water transportation services is creating chances for building infrastructure and expanding ports. Deploying resources in port upgrades, dredging, and logistics can boost the effectiveness and size of maritime shipping networks, allowing ports to handle bigger ships and increasing cargo levels. Additionally, creating multi-mode transportation canters and connections between different modes of transport can improve the flow of goods and boost trade opportunities while enhancing supply chain efficiency.


Segment Overview

  • By Type

The worldwide water transport market can be divided into four main categories: inland water transport, deep sea transport, coastal transport, and Great Lakes transport. Inland water transport involves moving goods along rivers, canals, and inland waterways, connecting regions and supporting local trade with vessels such as barges and riverboats. Deep sea transport, also referred to as ocean shipping, includes transporting cargo over deep ocean waters with container ships, bulk carriers, and oil tankers, playing a critical role in global trade. Coastal transport runs along coastlines, serving local trade and offering a different option to road and rail transport. Great Lakes transport focuses on shipping activities within the Great Lakes region of North America, particularly for bulk commodities like iron ore and coal.

  • By Application

The water transport market is divided into two main segments: offshore and onshore activities. Offshore activities involve transportation tasks that take place far from the coast, such as oil and gas exploration, offshore wind farms, and deep-sea fishing. On the other hand, onshore activities refer to transportation tasks that occur closer to the coast or on inland waterways, such as passenger ferries, coastal cargo shipping, and inland water transport for domestic trade. Each segment offers its own set of challenges and opportunities within the water transport market, which are influenced by factors like regulatory requirements, environmental concerns, and economic demand.


Global Water Transport Overview by Region

Developed economies like North America and Europe have strong port infrastructure, strict safety regulations, and high environmental standards. The Great Lakes region in North America is known for its inland water transport activities, while coastal shipping is essential for domestic trade and regional connectivity in Europe. The Asia-Pacific region is becoming a crucial growth centre for the water transport industry, driven by fast-paced industrialization, urbanization, and growing maritime trade.

China and Japan have strong deep sea shipping capacities, making them important hubs for global trade. Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia play pivotal roles in transhipment operations due to their strategic locations. Meanwhile, Africa and Latin America are seeing rising investments in port infrastructure and waterway expansion to boost trade connections and stimulate economic progress. However, challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, regulatory complexities, and security concerns remain significant in these regions.



Global Water Transport market competitive landscape

The competitive landscape of the global water transport market is characterized by the presence of several key players competing for market share across different segments and regions. Established shipping companies such as Maersk Line, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, and COSCO Shipping Holdings Co., Ltd. dominate the deep-sea transport segment, leveraging their extensive fleets and global network coverage to serve major trade routes.

Inland water transport is marked by a mix of large operators like American Commercial Barge Line and Ingram Barge Company in the United States, as well as numerous smaller players operating regionally. Coastal transport sees competition from both traditional shipping companies and regional operators, with firms like China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) operating coastal services in their respective regions.

Additionally, the emergence of digital platforms and logistics providers like Flex port and Freights is reshaping the competitive landscape by offering innovative solutions and value-added services to customers. Overall, the water transport market is highly competitive, driven by factors such as service reliability, cost efficiency, and technological innovation, with companies continually adapting strategies to maintain competitiveness and meet evolving customer demands.

Key Players:

  • Maersk Line Ltd
  • MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company Inc.
  • COSCO Shipping Holdings Co., Ltd.
  • American Commercial Barge Line Inc.
  • Ingram Barge Company Ltd.
  • China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited
  • Mediterranean Shipping Company Ltd.
  • Flexport Inc.
  • Freightos Ltd.
  • Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Ltd.
  • Wärtsilä Voyage Inc.
  • Hapag-Lloyd AG
  • CMA CGM S.A.


Global Water Transport Recent Developments

  • Oct 2022, the European Commission sanctioned a Dutch plan worth USD 23.2 million to encourage the transfer of freight transport from roads to inland waterways and railways.
  • May 2022, Anglo-Eastern Ship Management of Hong Kong and Wärtsilä Voyage announced progress in their joint initiative to enhance safety and environmental sustainability at sea. Over 500 vessels in Anglo-Eastern's managed fleet now utilize Wärtsilä Voyage's Fleet Operation Solutions, a software platform aiding in voyage planning, charter-party compliance, fuel efficiency, and fleet performance management.


Scope of global Water Transport report

Global Water Transport report segmentation



By Type

  • Inland Water Transport
  • Deep Sea
  • Coastal
  • Great Lakes

By Application

  • Offshore
  • Onshore

By Geography

  • North America (USA, and Canada)
  • Europe (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Russia and Rest of Europe)
  • Asia Pacific (Japan, China, India, Australia, Southeast Asia and Rest of Asia Pacific)
  • Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, and Rest of Latin America)
  • Middle East & Africa (South Africa, GCC, and Rest of Middle East & Africa)

Customization Scope

  • Available upon request


  • Available upon request


Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are summarized in 5 stages. They are as mentioned below:

  • Global Water Transport size and forecast: To identify and estimate the market size for global Water Transport market segmented By Type, By Application, and by region. Also, to understand the consumption/ demand created by consumers between 2024 and 2032.
  • Market Landscape and Trends: To identify and infer the drivers, restraints, opportunities, and challenges for global Water Transport
  • Market Influencing Factors: To find out the factors which are affecting the market of global Water Transport among consumers.
  • Company Profiling:  To provide a detailed insight into the major companies operating in the market. The profiling will include the financial health of the company's past 2-3 years with segmental and regional revenue breakup, product offering, recent developments, SWOT analysis, and key strategies.

Research Methodology

Our research methodology has always been the key differentiating reason which sets us apart in comparison from the competing organizations in the industry. Our organization believes in consistency along with quality and establishing a new level with every new report we generate; our methods are acclaimed and the data/information inside the report is coveted. Our research methodology involves a combination of primary and secondary research methods. Data procurement is one of the most extensive stages in our research process. Our organization helps in assisting the clients to find the opportunities by examining the market across the globe coupled with providing economic statistics for each and every region.  The reports generated and published are based on primary & secondary research. In secondary research, we gather data for global Market through white papers, case studies, blogs, reference customers, news, articles, press releases, white papers, and research studies. We also have our paid data applications which includes hoovers, Bloomberg business week, Avention, and others.

Data Collection

Data collection is the process of gathering, measuring, and analyzing accurate and relevant data from a variety of sources to analyze market and forecast trends. Raw market data is obtained on a broad front. Data is continuously extracted and filtered to ensure only validated and authenticated sources are considered. Data is mined from a varied host of sources including secondary and primary sources.

Primary Research

After the secondary research process, we initiate the primary research phase in which we interact with companies operating within the market space. We interact with related industries to understand the factors that can drive or hamper a market. Exhaustive primary interviews are conducted. Various sources from both the supply and demand sides are interviewed to obtain qualitative and quantitative information for a report which includes suppliers, product providers, domain experts, CEOs, vice presidents, marketing & sales directors, Type & innovation directors, and related key executives from various key companies to ensure a holistic and unbiased picture of the market. 

Secondary Research

A secondary research process is conducted to identify and collect information useful for the extensive, technical, market-oriented, and comprehensive study of the market. Secondary sources include published market studies, competitive information, white papers, analyst reports, government agencies, industry and trade associations, media sources, chambers of commerce, newsletters, trade publications, magazines, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Factiva, D&B, annual reports, company house documents, investor presentations, articles, journals, blogs, and SEC filings of companies, newspapers, and so on. We have assigned weights to these parameters and quantified their market impacts using the weighted average analysis to derive the expected market growth rate.

Top-Down Approach & Bottom-Up Approach

In the top – down approach, the Global Batteries for Solar Energy Storage Market was further divided into various segments on the basis of the percentage share of each segment. This approach helped in arriving at the market size of each segment globally. The segments market size was further broken down in the regional market size of each segment and sub-segments. The sub-segments were further broken down to country level market. The market size arrived using this approach was then crosschecked with the market size arrived by using bottom-up approach.

In the bottom-up approach, we arrived at the country market size by identifying the revenues and market shares of the key market players. The country market sizes then were added up to arrive at regional market size of the decorated apparel, which eventually added up to arrive at global market size.

This is one of the most reliable methods as the information is directly obtained from the key players in the market and is based on the primary interviews from the key opinion leaders associated with the firms considered in the research. Furthermore, the data obtained from the company sources and the primary respondents was validated through secondary sources including government publications and Bloomberg.

Market Analysis & size Estimation

Post the data mining stage, we gather our findings and analyze them, filtering out relevant insights. These are evaluated across research teams and industry experts. All this data is collected and evaluated by our analysts. The key players in the industry or markets are identified through extensive primary and secondary research. All percentage share splits, and breakdowns have been determined using secondary sources and verified through primary sources. The market size, in terms of value and volume, is determined through primary and secondary research processes, and forecasting models including the time series model, econometric model, judgmental forecasting model, the Delphi method, among Flywheel Energy Storage. Gathered information for market analysis, competitive landscape, growth trends, product development, and pricing trends is fed into the model and analyzed simultaneously.

Quality Checking & Final Review

The analysis done by the research team is further reviewed to check for the accuracy of the data provided to ensure the clients’ requirements. This approach provides essential checks and balances which facilitate the production of quality data. This Type of revision was done in two phases for the authenticity of the data and negligible errors in the report. After quality checking, the report is reviewed to look after the presentation, Type and to recheck if all the requirements of the clients were addressed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Global Water Transport forecast period is 2024 - 2032.
According to global Water Transport research, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of ~ 6.2% over the next eight years.
The possible segments in global Water Transport are based on By Type, By Application, & by region.
The expected market size for Global Water Transport is USD 572.04 billion in 2023.
The major players in the market are Maersk Line Ltd, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company Inc., COSCO Shipping Holdings Co., Ltd., American Commercial Barge Line Inc., Ingram Barge Company Ltd., China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited, Mediterranean Shipping Company Ltd., Flexport Inc., Freightos Ltd., Anglo-Eastern Ship Management Ltd., Wartsila Voyage Inc., Hapag-Lloyd AG, CMA CGM S.A.

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