Source: UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport, various years.
The steady increase in the share of total deadweight tonnage that is foreign-flagged shows a trend at reducing ownership costs through the usage of flags of convenience. About 70% of the global fleet is foreign-flagged, which is a radical shift from previous decades. As of 1955, 82% of the world’s tonnage was still directly owned by developed countries, a share that declined to 54% by 1980. This brings two main issues, the first concerning the country to which a ship was flagged and the second concerning the real country of ownership.