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Maritime trade through South China Sea booms to reach $28 trillion

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Staff Writer | August 5, 2017
Global trade through the South China Sea totaled $28 trillion from 2008 to 2016, with annual value rising from $2.61 trillion dollars in 2008 to $3.37 trillion in 2016, a U.S. think tank said.
Container ship
Asia   The data from a team lead by Bonnie Glaser
The data came from a team lead by Bonnie Glaser with Center for Strategic & International Studies.

In pursuit of an accurate estimation, the team constructed a new dataset for South China Sea trade using common shipping routes, automatic identification system data, and bilateral trade flows.

The new research finds that an estimated $3.37 trillion dollars in trade passed through the South China Sea in 2016.

"These estimates represent a sizeable proportion of international trade, constituting between 21 percent of global trade in 2016," the research said.

According to the report, over 64 percent of China's maritime trade transited the waterway in 2016, while nearly 42 percent of that of Japan's passed through the South China Sea in the same year.

The United States was less reliant on the South China Sea, with just over 14 percent of its maritime trade passing through the waterway.

During the time period of 2009 to 2016, trade though the waterway increased in six years out of eight, said the report.

In other words, the territory disputes in the South China Sea in recent years did not stop maritime trade from booming.

"Given the significance of the South China Sea for Chinese trade, Beijing may be more inclined to take steps to preserve the free flow of trade," said the report.