How Cargo Containers Shaped The Modern World

May 19, 2013 in Daily Bulletin

The humble shipping container – the large boxes that transport cargo across borders by ship, train, and truck – is responsible for unprecedented wealth in the world writes The Economist:

  • Before shipping containers, longshoremen would load cargo of differing size onto ships in what was essentially a giant game of tetris.
  • This was so slow that ships spent more time tied up than they did actually traversing the oceans. There was also a significant amount of theft – a longshoreman’s pay was said to be $20 a day and all the Scotch they could carry.
  • The man who invented containers found that it brought down costs from $5.83 a tonne to $0.16 a tonne – a decline of 97%.
  • With the decrease in the ease and likelihood of theft, insurance rates for shipping cargo also fell.
  • According to one study, the use of containers leads to a 320% increase in bilateral trade after the first five years and 790% after the first 20. This means that container shipping is more effective at promoting trade than any free trade agreement.

Read more about the power of the shipping container, the benefits it produces, and how those benefits are transmitted over here.

Source: The Economist