The world's major global shipping routes

Published Jan 9, 2022 , 2 min , international route , shipping , technology , forwarders

Trade routes are at the heart of the global economic system and knowing which route is the most important and the most used is a key factor in determining the trajectory each company will take. In this report, we take a look at the ranking of the most used trade routes and try to explain the reason for Asia being the most visited continent. The simple answer is, of course, China. Now let’s take a look at what top trade routes are:

Asia - North America, Asia - North Europe, Asia - Mediterranean, Asia - Middle East, North Europe - North America, Asia - East Coast South America, North Europe / Mediterranean - East Coast South America, North America – East Coast South America

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What's more critical to the global economy than Maritime shipping? International trade, which is mostly done by water, is what allows us to have access to so many commodities all around the world. We are all aware that the majority of the items in our environment originate in other nations such as China, Japan, Germany, and so on. However, have you ever considered that the items mentioned above, travel along what routes and which one is the most popular one for ensuring on-time delivery? Let's have a look at what we've got.

One of the most important aspects of the shipping industry is trade routes. They decide the parameters and the conditions, as well as the time it takes to travel to the location and then of course, the cost. In order to expand, all actors in the supply chain must be aware of the major trade routes. Top carriers travel via these areas, but are the leading container ports also connected to this ranking?

Let's have a look at the major marine trade routes throughout the world. The leading commercial routes, according to the World Shipping Council and based on 2017 reports, are: 


  1. Asia – North America: 26.57 million TEU shipped.
  2. Asia – North Europe: 15.06 million TEU shipped.
  3. Asia – Mediterranean: 7.91 million TEU shipped.
  4. Asia – Middle East: 4.74 million TEU shipped.
  5. North Europe – North America: 5.40 million TEU shipped.
  6. Asia – East Coast South America: 2.07 million TEU shipped.
  7. North Europe / Mediterranean – East Coast South America: 1.68 million TEU shipped.
  8. North America – East Coast South America: 1.27 million TEU shipped.


Given that China is home to 70% of the world's top ports, it's no surprise that the Asian continent is leading the major commercial routes. This fact only emphasizes the country's importance in international trade and logistics. China has undergone considerable expansion, which has shifted the market for the better, and it is currently the world's largest supplier. It is definitely an example for the industry to learn what can be accomplished with innovation and determination. 

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