Trade between countries has grown at an unparalleled rate over the last 40 years, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Increased trade has put enormous strain on the maritime and port industries, which have responded with innovations, investment, and increased productivity. International trade and maritime trade are interchangeable terms, and knowing the factors that influence international trade is essential to comprehending maritime trade. We present a survey of the international trade literature with an emphasis on trade determinants and the progress of trade modeling in this work. Then, in the context of major determinants, we give a general summary of trade’s scope and growth.

The main findings are that: (1) trade is growing at a phenomenal rate; (2) trade is dominated by a small number of countries that tend to remain dominant; (3) while all products are growing, there are large differences in growth rates, but relative market sizes remain stable; and (4) trade has shifted from major flows between the US and Europe to major flows between Asia and the US over the last 40 years.

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