Liberia Overtakes Panama as World’s Largest Ship Registry
MONROVIA – Liberia has surpassed Panama to become the world’s largest ship registry, marking the first time in three decades that Panama has been overtaken in terms of gross tonnage.
According to the latest data from Clarksons Research, Liberia now claims the top spot as the leading ship registry based on gross tonnes.
The data revealed that Liberia’s fleet has experienced remarkable growth, expanding by 5.6% in the current year, which has allowed it to establish a substantial 2.2 million gross tonnage lead over Panama. However, it is worth noting that Panama still maintains a significant advantage in terms of the number of ships under its registry, with more than 3,200 vessels on its books.
The current ranking also shows some noteworthy trends among other flag states. Malta and Cyprus have suffered losses, likely attributable to the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine. On the other hand, Germany has emerged as the flag state with the most significant percentage growth, signaling a positive trend for a nation that has struggled to achieve substantial maritime growth over the past decade.
Liberia’s achievement in becoming the largest ship registry can be attributed to the longstanding success of its maritime program. The Liberian Maritime Program was established in 1948, with strong support from the United States of America. As a founding member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1949, Liberia has played a critical role in promoting maritime safety, security, and environmental protection on the global stage.
The administration of the program has evolved over time, with the Bureau of Maritime Affairs (BMA) initially overseeing its operations under the Ministry of Finance and later the Ministry of Transport. In 2010, with the passing of the Liberia Maritime Authority Act, the BMA transformed into the Liberian Maritime Authority (LiMA), becoming a public corporation with a broader mandate to manage all commercial activities within Liberia’s maritime domain.
The rationale behind this transformation, according to the Liberian Government, was to diversify the Authority’s focus beyond being a leading maritime shipping and corporate registry program. Liberia aimed to strategically support and nurture enterprises across its domestic maritime domain, fostering greater economic and social benefits for the nation and its people.
Liberia’s rise to become the world’s largest ship registry reflects the nation’s commitment to the maritime industry and its recognition of the significant potential it holds for economic growth and development.
However, the government must now redirect its focus to leverage this success for the benefit of its citizens. Addressing corruption and promoting transparency in a sector that has been exploited for years will be key factors.
In addition, investing in social development, empowering the workforce, and ensuring environmental sustainability are essential steps to secure Liberia’s position as a prominent and responsible player in the global maritime community. By doing so, Liberia can pave the way for inclusive economic growth and a brighter future for its people.