The global shipping industry, still suffering from the economic slowdown and low marine trading, is struggling with overcapacity and falling productivity, according to a UN agency.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the supply of new vessels, which were ordered before the downturn, continued to enter into the market during the economic crisis, when the industry was expecting high growth.

The reason for the decline in average productivity in recent years is the oversupply of tonnage available, which contrasts with the reduced growth in world seaborne trade, UNCTAD said.

The growth in international trade slowed to 3.6% in 2008 from 4.5% in 2007, to an estimated 8.17 billion tonnes of goods loaded, with dry cargo accounting for two-thirds of the figure.

In 2008, the average deadweight tonne of cargo-carrying capacity transported one tonne of cargo over 29,300 nautical miles in 2008, or 194km per day, UNCTAD said.

The figure is expected to fall below 28,000t-miles in 2009.