The aim of this study is to determine the nature and extent of the threat of global maritime piracy. The cost of global piracy has been estimated at USD15-25 billion, reaching an all-time high in 2011, remaining an ongoing threat to world trade and contributing to high commodity costs.
Based on a literature review of formal and informal published sources, this exploratory and diagnostic article attempts to approximately quantify global piracy in terms of pirate activity worldwide and shipper response, and looks at global trends and some tentative economic implications.
The overall findings are inconclusive due to unreliable and piecemeal data, but global piracy clearly impacts goods carried by sea. The piracy problem may be estimated in terms of ships and crew affected, ransoms paid, the impact on specific commodities in terms of cargoes carried and cost implications of pirate-avoiding rerouting.
Pirates are getting rich, but their compatriots are poorer than ever. Countries desperate for international aid are corruptly laundering pirate ransom income and continuing to support pirate warlords. Prices are continuing to rise for consumers in all countries. Solutions to the piracy problem remain elusive, and are considered in a follow-up article, Maritime piracy – the challenge of providing long-term solutions.
Most articles in this field consider specific piracy incidents in particular locations, without an overall analysis of the impact on world trade as a whole. There is a gap in the literature for an up-to-date, analytical study of maritime piracy worldwide.
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