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The Global Market for Dangerous Goods!
Written by Ana Casaca Posted on 09 July 2024 Reading Time 34 minutes

1. Global Trade Overview

At its core, trade refers to the exchange of goods and services between parties; it is as old as human history, dating back to the Silk Road and many maritime trade routes of antiquity. The Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries marked a significant expansion in global trade as European explorers established sea routes to Asia, Africa, and the Americas. This period saw the exchange of spices, precious metals, and other valuable commodities. The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries further transformed global trade by introducing mass production and steam-powered transport. These technological advancements dramatically increased the volume and complexity of trade, with textiles, machinery, and manufactured goods dominating international commerce. The 20th century brought about significant changes in trade activities, particularly after World War II. The technological advancements witnessed over the last decades and the development of policies have contributed significantly to these changes.
Technological advancements, like computing and information technology, satellite technology and digital mobile networks, materials science and engineering, have significantly impacted global trade by enhancing communications, transport operations, and logistics and supply chain operations and management. From an information technology perspective, the internet and the emergence of digital platforms have revolutionised trade by facilitating e-commerce and reducing transaction costs. Online marketplaces have enabled small and medium-sized enterprises to access global markets. Innovations in shipping, air freight, and logistics have reduced the time and cost of moving goods across borders; countries became closer as the time taken to travel those distances became shorter. The ever-increasing specialisation of maritime transport that culminated in the advent of containerisation and the development of transport systems have streamlined cargo handling and improved efficiency. New approaches to supply management, such as just in time, supported by technologies such as blockchain and the internet of things, provide real-time tracking and transparency, enhancing the efficiency and security of global trade. Finally, manufacturing, which is very much comprised of automation and robotics, has increased production efficiency and reduced costs, making it easier for countries to participate in global trade.
The development of policies, initially by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and later by its successor, the World Trade Organization, an intergovernmental organisation and a forum to negotiate trade agreements, also fostered trade among countries. In the quest to eliminate protectionist policies taken by governments to restrict or limit international trade, World Trade Organization policies aim to a) promote free trade among nations by reducing barriers to international trade, including tariffs, quotas, and other trade restrictions to expand international trade opportunities and enhance economic growth and development; b) provide a legal and institutional framework for the implementation and monitoring of trade agreements; c) establish a formal mechanism for resolving trade disputes between member countries, namely the Dispute Settlement Body to facilitate the fair and efficient resolution of trade disputes through consultation, mediation, and arbitration; d) ensure transparency in international trade policies and practices; e) assist developing countries integration in the global trading system and support their economic growth; f) foster fair competition in international trade, enforcing agreements on anti-dumping measures and subsidies that distort competition, allowing countries to go beyond , ensuring that trade is conducted fairly and competitively; and g) collaborate with other international organisations, namely the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United Nations to coordinate trade policies with broader economic and social goals.
Trade has become a fundamental economic activity on various scales, from local, national, and regional to international and global markets. Today, it is a fundamental component of the global economy. It allows nations to specialise in economic activities that allow them to produce and sell products (i.e. goods and services) most efficiently and buy products that other nations can also produce more efficiently, allowing nations to go beyond their production possibilities frontiers. This interconnectedness fosters economic growth, enhances consumer choice, and encourages innovation. Trade has become a cornerstone of human civilisation, enabling societies to acquire resources, including commodities and technologies, that they cannot produce themselves, playing a pivotal role in global economic, social, and political landscapes.
Several countries dominate global trade due to their large economies, industrial capacities, and strategic geographic locations. China, the world’s largest exporter, is pivotal in global trade. Its manufacturing sector produces various goods, including electronics, machinery, textiles, and consumer products. China’s Belt and Road Initiative aims to expand its trade network further across Asia, Europe, and Africa. The European Union, a dominant force in global trade, collectively surpasses many individual countries in export volume, boasting a diverse and highly competitive industrial base. Key exports include machinery, vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products, showcasing the European Union’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and technological prowess. Germany, the European Union’s largest economy, leads in exports, particularly in automotive and industrial machinery. France, Italy, and the Netherlands contribute significantly with strong aerospace, fashion, and food product exports. The European Union’s single market, while facilitating seamless internal trade activities, enhances the competitiveness of its exports on the global stage. The United States, a significant exporter and importer, has a diverse economy that includes technology, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products. Its trade policies and economic decisions significantly influence global markets. Other countries relevant to the world trade include Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Singapore, India and Brazil.

2. Hazardous and Dangerous Goods. What is the Difference?

Global trade encompasses many products, and certain essential commodities dominate international commerce. These include energy products, agricultural products, electronics, cars, machinery and equipment, pharmaceuticals, textiles and apparel. Out of these, energy products play a crucial role. Crude oil, natural gas, and coal are among the most traded commodities globally because they are essential for powering industries, transport modes, and households. Agricultural products such as grains, soybeans, coffee, tea, and sugar are major agricultural exports; they are also vital for food security and are heavily traded between developed and developing countries. These products can be carried in different ways, depending on the stage in which they find themselves along the supply chain, namely as raw materials, individual components, parts and modules, and finished products.
Nevertheless, the wide variety of products traded worldwide to support businesses and consumers have different features that determine how they are transported. Some fragile products require gentle handling during loading and unloading to minimise impacts, and additional information such as clear labelling indicating ‘fragile’ and orientation arrows to guide proper handling. Others are perishable, requiring fast transit times to prevent spoilage and ensure freshness; they are often transported in refrigerated or temperature-controlled containers to maintain specific temperature ranges. Seasonal products, such as those sold on Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, or Easter, are typically tied to cultural, environmental, or traditional cycles; they contribute significantly to the economy by stimulating consumer spending, supporting jobs in various sectors, and influencing overall market dynamics. Oversized or heavy products require specialised equipment and logistics due to their size and weight; they are subject to proper cargo securing to prevent shifting or damage during transit.
High-value products like jewellery, precious metals, or confidential documents require enhanced security measures, such as global positioning system tracking, surveillance, or escort services to monitor their shipment’s location and condition and prevent theft or loss along the supply chain. Comprehensive insurance coverage may be necessary to mitigate financial risks associated with theft or damage. Commodity products are widely available in the market and are generally uniform in quality and features, making them interchangeable with other goods of the same type. These products are raw materials that serve as inputs for further production or consumption. Finally, a broad category of everyday consumer products and industrial goods falls within the scope of general goods that do not require specialised handling. Still, they require durable packaging to withstand normal handling and weather conditions; they are often carried in containers along transport systems of different transport modes (e.g., trucks, ships, aeroplanes) to optimise transit time and minimise overall logistics costs.
However, not all the products traded worldwide are considered safe; some are dangerous. Dangerous goods (also known as hazardous material or hazmat) refer to goods, substances and materials (hereinafter goods) that, due to their chemical and physical properties, pose unique challenges and risks to health, safety, property, or the environment during transport or storage, and cause significant harm to people, property, and the environment if not handled properly. However, a difference exists between dangerous goods and hazardous materials, even though the terms are used interchangeably.
A hazard is a potential source of harm or adverse effects, such as fumes or vapours, that poses immediate or long-term health effects through exposure on people, property or the environment, causing injury, illness, or damage. Hazards can be categorised into several types based on their nature and the kind of harm they can cause. Types of hazards include chemical, physical, biological, ergonomic, psychosocial, mechanical, and environmental hazards. Hazardous materials can be either a solid, a liquid, or a gas. They can also refer to physical threats such as electrical hazards or issues resulting in slips, trips and falls. For this reason, some hazardous materials are classified as dangerous goods while others are not.
Conversely, dangerous goods refer to goods that can potentially cause harm, injury, or damage under certain conditions. The level of danger of goods depends upon their inherent properties and their capability to pose significant risks during transport, storage, handling, and use. Inherent properties arise from dangerous goods, chemical, physical, or biological properties, and pose immediate physical or chemical effects, such as an explosion or a fire. For this reason, flammable, explosive, corrosive, toxic or oxidising goods are classified as dangerous; this is the case of substances that combust when exposed to another. Table 1 identifies the risks of handling dangerous goods and some considerations.
Table 1: Risks of Handling Dangerous Goods
Risks Considerations
Fires These are most common in flammable loads.
Companies must train their workers to avoid common mistakes like smoking.
Knowing what to do if a fire occurs during the transport journey is essential.
Explosions These are also related to flammable loads but can occur in other loads.
Significant risks occur in busy areas such as ports and on board ships, which cause major disasters.
Poisoning This occurs primarily in the case of chemical substances.
Poisoning occurs through inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption.
Contamination Mishandling of dangerous goods contaminates the soil, water and crops, which affects many people.
Source: Ana Casaca (2024)
Therefore, the difference between hazardous materials and dangerous goods depends on their health and safety risks. Hazardous materials present a risk through exposure or contact, potentially causing severe health effects, injuries, or environmental damage. Dangerous goods pose a risk through a physical or chemical effect, leading to incidents such as fires, explosions, or toxic releases.
Moreover, while dangerous goods are often considered a subset of hazardous materials because many items classified as dangerous goods are also hazardous, not all hazardous materials are classified as dangerous goods. The primary distinction lies in the context and conditions of use. Dangerous goods regulations specifically focus on the risks of transporting these materials. Therefore, some hazardous materials might not be classified as dangerous goods if they do not pose significant risks during transport. Also, hazardous materials are broad in scope. They cover a more comprehensive range of contexts beyond transport, including workplace exposure, environmental impact, and long-term health effects. For instance, certain long-term health hazards like carcinogens may be heavily regulated as hazardous materials; however, they might not be classified as dangerous goods if their transport does not pose an immediate risk.

3. The Dangerous Goods Logistics Market

Throughout the years, the global market for the carriage of dangerous goods has grown substantially, reflecting the vital role these materials play in various industrial and commercial activities. These products include chemicals, gases, flammable liquids and solids, explosives, toxic and infectious substances, radioactive materials, and corrosives. Despite their nature, these products are indispensable for the economy and play a crucial role in global trade; in fact, dangerous goods are critical to multiple industries, including the chemical, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, agricultural, manufacturing, mining, transport and logistics, construction, automotive, electronics, aerospace, healthcare, textile, food and beverage and utilities industries.
However, dangerous goods originate from various sources; they can arise from natural resources extraction such as mining, drilling, and other extraction processes, chemical reactions and syntheses in laboratories and industrial production facilities, or industrial processes such as manufacturing, refining, and energy production. Of these three mentioned sources, the chemical industry is a cornerstone of the dangerous goods market, impacting the previously identified industries and contributing significantly to its value and volume. In 2017, as per the World Health Organization (2024), the chemical industry was the second-largest manufacturing industry in the world; the five largest manufacturing sectors globally are food and beverage, chemicals, electronics, machinery, and transport equipment. Globally, the chemical industry was valued at US$4.73 trillion in 2021 (Mordor Intelligence. 2024) and US$5.72 trillion in 2022 (Statista Research Department, 2024), its highest value in the last 15 years, and expected to reach US$6.780 trillion by 2025 (Frost & Sullivan, 2022). Key chemical producers in 2021 included BASF - Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik (Germany), Ineos Group Limited (United Kingdom), SABIC – Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Saudi Arabia), LG Chem Ltd. (South Korea), Sinopec - China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation and PetroChina Company Limited (China), Formosa Plastics Corporation (Taiwan) and Dow - The Dow Chemical Company, LyondellBasell Industries N.V. and ExxonMobil Corporation (United States).
Again, according to the World Health Organization (2024), more than 160 million chemicals critical for economic and technological development must be transported from their production sites to processing plants up to the consumer, thus covering the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors. Out of this massive number of chemical products, about 40,000 to 60,000 are traded commercially, while 6,000 account for more than 99% of chemical products traded commercially globally. However, not all the existing chemicals are safe. Key segments within the chemical industry that involve dangerous goods include basic chemicals, speciality chemicals, agricultural chemicals, and consumer products (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, 2023).
The basic chemicals sector encompasses the production of both inorganic and organic compounds. Organic chemicals are integral in creating other chemicals and are utilised in manufacturing products like dyes, plastics, and petrochemical items; examples include methanol, acetone, and ethylene. In contrast, inorganic chemicals are commonly employed in producing solid and liquid chemicals and industrial gases. Notable examples include sodium, sulfuric acid, and chlorine. Additionally, inorganic chemicals often function as catalysts, facilitating or accelerating chemical reactions during manufacturing.
Speciality chemicals are unique molecules or formulations manufactured for specific functions or performance. They include adhesives, sealants, food additives, flavours, fragrances, and explosives. Many sectors, including the automotive industry, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics, and food, rely on speciality chemicals for their products. Agricultural chemicals include products such as pesticides (i.e. fungicides, fumigants, herbicides and insecticides) and fertilisers (i.e. nitrogen, potash and phosphate). Finally, consumer products, often called household products, include packaged products such as soaps and detergents, oral hygiene, hair and skin care products, and personal care products.
Therefore, it is no surprise that logistics management, including transport and storage, of such materials requires specialised logistics services and stringent regulations to ensure safety, environmental protection, and compliance throughout the supply chain. Key regulatory frameworks include the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code that governs the transport of dangerous goods by sea, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) that applies to air transport, the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) that governs road transport in Europe, the Regulations concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) that applies to rail transport in Europe, the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goodsby Inland Waterways (ADN) and the United States Department of Transport (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) that governs the transport of hazardous materials within the United States.
From a market value perspective, the dangerous goods logistics market is a significant segment of the overall freight transport industry. In 2021, the dangerous goods logistics market accounted for US$200.97 billion (Singh, 2022); in 2022, it represented US$210.82 billion (InsightAce Analytic Pvt. Ltd, 2024) and in 2023, US$230.78 billion (Meta, 2024). Considering previous years’ data, the market is expected to grow further due to the enormous growth of the chemical industry. Looking at the 2023 United Nations (UN) Orange Book, more than 3,000 registered four-digit UN Numbers, ranging from UN0004 to UN3560, are to be carried globally. Accordingly, the logistics market is estimated at US$259.05 billion in 2024 and is expected to reach US$347.97 billion by 2029, representing a compound annual growth rate of 6.08% during the forecast period (2024-2029) (Research and Markets, 2024). These figures encompass dangerous goods transport, warehousing, and value-added services such as labelling, packaging, documentation, and compliance management (Meta, 2024); the values of the dangerous goods logistics market by business type in 2022, in US$ billion and market share are presented in Figures 1 and 2.
Figure 1: 2022 Dangerous Goods Logistics Market by Business Type in US$ Billion
Source: adapted Meta (2024)
Figure 2: 2022 Dangerous Goods Logistics Market by Business Type in %
Source: adapted Meta (2024)
From a geographical perspective, the dangerous goods logistics market is globally distributed, with certain regions standing out more than others due to their industrial capacities, regulatory environments, and strategic importance in global trade.
The European dangerous goods market is critical to the region’s industrial landscape. Europe has a significant market for dangerous goods, supported by its well-established chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Key countries include Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. A comprehensive regulatory framework governs their transport and handling in Europe to ensure safety and environmental protection. The European Union, through various directives and regulations, ensures uniform standards across Member-States.
Although smaller, the African dangerous goods market is a diverse and rapidly developing sector, integral to the region’s economic growth and industrial activities. It includes producing, handling, and transporting dangerous goods essential to mining, oil and gas, chemicals, agriculture, and manufacturing. Major economies like South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and Algeria are prominent players in this market, driven by domestic demand and export activities.
The Middle East dangerous goods market is a significant segment of the region’s broader industrial landscape. It includes producing, handling, and transporting dangerous goods essential to industries such as petrochemicals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. Countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates play a critical role due to their oil and gas industries. The region’s strategic location as a hub for global trade routes also contributes to its prominence in dangerous goods logistics.
The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market for dangerous goods and a significant player experiencing rapid growth in the global dangerous goods market due to its extensive industrial base, significant chemical and petrochemical production, and high volume of exports. Major countries contributing to this market include China, Japan, South Korea, and India. This market includes dangerous goods used in various industries, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, energy, and manufacturing. The region’s rapid industrialisation, economic growth, and increasing demand for raw materials and finished products contribute to the dynamic nature of the dangerous goods market.
The North American dangerous goods market encompasses various goods used across various industries. These include chemicals, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural chemicals. The region, embracing the United States, Canada, and Mexico, has a robust regulatory framework to manage the production, transport, and handling of dangerous goods to ensure safety and environmental protection.
Finally, the Latin American dangerous goods market embraces various goods used in various industries, such as chemicals, petrochemicals, mining, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. The region’s vast natural resources, significant industrial base, and growing economies contribute to the dynamic nature of the dangerous goods market. Countries like Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile are major players in this market, driven by both domestic demand and exports of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural chemicals. The region’s market is expanding due to increasing industrial activities and investments in infrastructure.
Demand and growth drivers strongly impact the market dynamics of each of these regional markers. The demand for dangerous goods highly depends on expanding industrial activities in sectors like chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas drive the demand for dangerous goods. Energy needs also influence the demand for dangerous goods since increasing energy consumption and the need for petroleum products and natural gas stimulate the production and transport of dangerous goods. Furthermore, agricultural development and the sector’s reliance on pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers support the market for dangerous goods, and technological advancements, such as innovations in chemical manufacturing and new applications in the electronics and automotive industries, contribute to market growth.
Still, market dynamics are subject to numerous challenges. Regulatory compliance with stringent regulations across multiple jurisdictions can be complex and costly. The inherent risks associated with dangerous goods necessitate robust safety measures to prevent accidents and incidents. Managing the environmental impact of dangerous goods, including waste disposal and spill response, is a significant challenge. Finally, safely transporting dangerous goods requires specialised logistics, including proper packaging, labelling, handling procedures, and specialised and experienced labour.
In support of demand and growth drivers and the challenges mentioned above, major regional players focus on sustainable practices and technological integration to enhance safety, efficiency, and compliance in handling dangerous goods and be prepared to deal with future trends. Advances in technology, such as the use of blockchain for tracking and tracing dangerous goods, while costly, enhance transparency, visibility and accountability along the supply chain. The increasing digitalisation along the transport chain, including at a maritime operational level, poses cybersecurity risks, requiring robust measures to protect against cyber threats that compromise the safety of dangerous goods transport. Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war and the Houthis attacks on merchant ships in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, the Gate of Grief or the Gate of Tears, and the Arabian Gulf have highlighted the vulnerability of global supply chains, including the transport of dangerous goods. Ensuring resilience and adaptability in such disruptions is a key challenge.
Finally, international and national regulatory frameworks will play a crucial role in ensuring the safe transport and handling of these materials and in supporting industrial development and economic growth of the dangerous goods market in all regions. Stricter environmental regulations, such as the IMO 2020 sulphur cap and the emerging measures to regulate the decarbonisation process through which the shipping industry is going through, are and will be impacting the transport of dangerous goods, requiring the adoption of cleaner and alternative costly fuels and more sustainable practices. However, apart from Europe and, to a certain extent, North America, regulatory compliance across the remaining areas of the globe appears challenging and complex due to the combination of international agreements and national regulations.
Table 2: Dangerous Goods Market Value and Key Industries by Geographical Area Expected in 2024
Geographical Market Approximate Market Value in US$ billion Key Industries Dangerous Goods as % of total freight traffic
Europe 60 Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, automotive, manufacturing 12%
Africa and the Middle East 20 Oil and gas, chemicals, mining 8%
Asia-Pacific 80 Chemical manufacturing, petrochemicals, electronics, automotive 15%
North America 70 Chemicals, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, automotive 10%
Latin America 20 Oil and gas, chemicals, mining, agriculture 10%
Source: Ana Casaca (2024) based on various sources
Table 2 indicates the value of dangerous goods by geographical market, the key industries and the share of dangerous goods as a percentage share of the total freight traffic in the region. Out of the five markets, the Asia Pacific region stands first due to its industrial strength, significant chemical and petrochemical production, extensive trade networks, economic growth, evolving regulatory environment, and strategic geographic position. Countries like China, India, Japan, and South Korea are global industrial centres producing and requiring large quantities of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other hazardous materials. The petrochemical industry is a major contributor, with large-scale production and export of chemicals, fertilisers, and related products. China, for example, is one of the largest producers of chemicals globally. Moreover, the region is home to a significant portion of the world’s manufacturing facilities, which use various dangerous goods in their production processes. North America and Europe also have substantial markets driven by their well-developed industrial sectors. The Middle East’s market is fuelled by its oil and gas industry, while Latin America’s market benefits from its natural resources and emerging industrial activities.

4. Modal Share in Dangerous Goods

The transport of dangerous goods across different transport modes, namely sea, air, road, rail, inland waterways and pipelines, presents unique challenges and considerations due to the inherent risks associated with these materials. Understanding the modal share of dangerous goods transport is crucial for ensuring safety, regulatory compliance, and efficient logistics management.
As the primary mode for international trade, sea transport handles the largest share of the dangerous goods market; about 50-60% of all goods shipped by sea are classified as dangerous goods with a market value of around US$100-150 billion. These dangerous goods include petroleum products, liquefied natural gas, chemicals, radioactive materials, and other dangerous waste. Moreover, between 10-12% of all goods shipped by sea are packaged dangerous goods, representing about 6 million shipments annually, and the role of containers in carrying them (Küzma, 2017). Still, this percentage can vary depending on the specific routes and cargo types. These shipments are subject to rules that each player along the maritime supply chain must comply with, beginning when the cargo is stuffed in the container.
Unlike sea transport, air transport carries a smaller volume of dangerous goods. Still, it is vital for high-value and time-sensitive dangerous goods, representing about 4-5% of total air freight, an annual volume of about 5 million metric tons spread over more than 1.25 million dangerous goods shipments (International Air Transport Association, 2022) with a value of US$10-15 billion. Air transport of dangerous goods is relatively low due to strict safety regulations and restrictions on certain dangerous goods. High-value and time-sensitive goods like radioactive materials, biomedical samples, pharmaceuticals and small quantities of chemicals are typically transported by air. Air transport offers rapid delivery and global reach, particularly for pharmaceuticals and high-tech industries.
Road transport is very much used for transporting dangerous goods, especially for shorter distances and within urban areas. Road transport is vital for the last-mile delivery of dangerous goods as it offers flexibility and direct routes to destinations that may not be accessible by other modes. It represents approximately 8-10% of the road transport market, valued at US$40-60 billion. It accounts for a significant portion of domestic and regional transport of dangerous goods, particularly in densely populated and industrialised areas. Dangerous goods transported by road include industrial chemicals, flammable liquids, gases, and other materials. The percentage varies based on industrial activity and regulatory standards in different regions.
Rail transport is another significant mode for transporting dangerous goods, particularly over long distances and for bulk shipments. It is crucial in regions like North America and Europe, making up around 5-7% of the market, valued at US$20-30 billion. Dangerous goods transported by rail include bulk petroleum products, chemicals, gases, corrosive substances and other dangerous goods. Rail transport offers several advantages, such as high capacity, lower emissions per ton-kilometre, while contributing to reduced road congestion. However, rail networks are crucial for transporting such materials over land, especially in regions with extensive industrial activities.
Inland waterways transport regional chemical and petroleum products valued at US$5-10 billion. It accounts for 5-8% of all inland waterways freight. This percentage varies depending on the availability and utilisation of inland water routes in different regions. This mode is significant in areas with navigable rivers and canals, offering an economical alternative for heavy and bulk goods.
The last transport mode is the pipeline. Pipelines transport almost exclusively 100% dangerous goods such as crude oil, refined petroleum products, and natural gas with a value of US$50-70 billion. The percentage is high because pipelines are specialised infrastructure designed to transport such materials safely.

5. Key Logistics Players in Dangerous Goods

Several key logistics players dominate the dangerous goods logistics market with their extensive networks, advanced technology, and deep expertise to handle the complex logistics challenges these goods pose. Key players include DHL Global Forwarding, FedEx Express, Kuehne + Nagel, DB Schenker, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Agility Logistics, Expeditors International, CEVA Logistics and DSV Panalpina.
DHL Global Forwarding, a Deutsche Post DHL Group division, is a leading global logistics provider renowned for its expertise in handling dangerous goods. Specialised in air, ocean, and road freight, DHL adheres strictly to international regulations such as the IATA DGR for air freight, the IMDG Code for ocean freight, and ADR regulations for road transport. Services include tailored solutions for dangerous goods, charter services, and comprehensive customs brokerage. DHL’s capabilities extend to supply chain management, offering integrated logistics solutions encompassing warehousing, inventory management, and distribution. With a presence in over 220 countries and territories, DHL operates specialised facilities with bonded warehouses and temperature-controlled storage. Regular training programs ensure staff compliance with stringent safety and regulatory standards. Key markets served include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, automotive, and electronics, reflecting DHL’s commitment to delivering secure and efficient logistics solutions worldwide.
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corporation, is a prominent player in air transport of dangerous goods, renowned for its extensive global network and stringent safety protocols. Specialising in air freight, FedEx Express adheres strictly to IATA DGR, offering express and deferred shipping options. It also handles ground shipments within the United States and Canada in compliance with the Department of Transport regulations and ensures that international shipments meet global dangerous goods regulations. FedEx Express provides comprehensive customs brokerage services, assisting with regulatory documentation and compliance. With one of the largest air networks globally, FedEx Express operates key hubs with specialised handling procedures and equipment for various classes of dangerous goods. Regular employee training on dangerous goods handling further underscores its commitment to safety. Key markets served include healthcare, industrial manufacturing, aerospace, and chemicals, reflecting FedEx Express’s capability to deliver secure and efficient logistics solutions across diverse industries.
Kuehne + Nagel, a leading global logistics provider, specialises in safely transporting dangerous goods across various modalities. Complying with international standards such as the IMDG Code for sea logistics, IATA DGR for air logistics, and ADR regulations for road logistics, Kuehne + Nagel offers a comprehensive range of services. These include integrated logistics solutions encompassing warehousing, inventory management, and distribution. With a presence in over 100 countries, Kuehne + Nagel operates dedicated facilities with specialised capabilities for handling hazardous materials, including temperature-controlled storage. The company prioritises compliance and safety, ensuring rigorous training for its staff to uphold strict regulatory standards. Key markets served by Kuehne + Nagel include pharmaceuticals, chemicals, oil and gas, automotive, and consumer goods, underscoring its ability to deliver reliable and secure logistics solutions tailored to diverse industry needs.
DB Schenker, a division of Deutsche Bahn AG, is a major global logistics provider specialising in comprehensive solutions for dangerous goods transport. The company adheres to international standards across its service offerings, including IATA DGR for air freight, IMDG Code for ocean freight, and ADR and RID road and rail transport regulations. DB Schenker’s services extend to contract logistics, encompassing warehousing, inventory management, and distribution to support seamless supply chain operations. With a presence in over 130 countries, DB Schenker operates specialised facilities equipped with bonded and temperature-controlled warehouses, ensuring the safe handling of hazardous materials. The company emphasises training and regulatory compliance to uphold safety standards and meet industry-specific requirements. Key markets served include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, automotive, electronics, and consumer goods, highlighting DB Schenker’s capability to provide tailored logistics solutions across diverse sectors globally.
UPS Supply Chain Solutions, a United Parcel Service (UPS) division, is a prominent global logistics provider specialising in dangerous goods transport. The company offers a comprehensive range of services aligned with international regulations, including IATA DGR for air freight, IMDG Code for ocean freight, and DOT regulations for ground freight within the United States and internationally. UPS Supply Chain Solutions also provides customs brokerage services to facilitate regulatory compliance for international shipments. Their integrated supply chain management solutions encompass warehousing, inventory management, and distribution, supported by a global network spanning over 220 countries and territories. UPS operates specialised facilities with bonded and temperature-controlled warehouses to handle hazardous materials safely. Rigorous training programs maintain staff competence in regulatory requirements. Key markets served by UPS Supply Chain Solutions include healthcare, chemicals, industrial manufacturing, automotive, and electronics, demonstrating their ability to deliver secure and efficient logistics solutions across diverse industries worldwide.
Agility Logistics, a global leader in logistics services, excels in transporting dangerous goods across multiple modalities. The company adheres to international standards such as the IMDG Code for sea freight, IATA DGR for air freight, and ADR regulations for road freight. Agility Logistics provides integrated solutions encompassing warehousing, inventory management, and distribution to support efficient supply chain operations. With a presence in over 100 countries, Agility operates dedicated facilities equipped to handle hazardous materials, emphasising compliance and safety through rigorous training and adherence to regulations. Key markets served include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, automotive, and consumer goods, highlighting Agility’s capability to deliver secure and reliable logistics solutions tailored to diverse industry needs worldwide.
Expeditors International is a renowned global logistics provider specialising in transporting dangerous goods. The company offers comprehensive services aligned with international regulations, including IATA DGR for air freight and compliance with the IMDG Code for ocean freight. Expeditors International also provides customs brokerage services to ensure regulatory compliance for international shipments. Their supply chain solutions encompass warehousing, inventory management, and distribution, supporting seamless logistics operations. With a presence in over 100 countries, Expeditors International operates specialised facilities for handling hazardous materials and emphasises training programs to maintain staff compliance with safety regulations. Key markets served include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, industrial manufacturing, and aerospace, demonstrating Expeditors International’s expertise in delivering global secure and efficient logistics solutions tailored to diverse industry needs.
As a prominent global logistics provider, CEVA Logistics specialises in safely and efficiently transporting dangerous goods across various modes. The company adheres to stringent international standards, offering solutions aligned with IATA DGR for air freight, IMDG Code for ocean freight, and ADR regulations for road transport. CEVA Logistics’ comprehensive services extend to contract logistics, encompassing warehousing, inventory management, and distribution to support streamlined supply chain operations. With a global presence spanning over 160 countries, CEVA operates specialised facilities to handle hazardous materials, emphasising rigorous staff training and strict regulatory compliance. Key markets served include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, automotive, and consumer goods, showcasing CEVA Logistics’ capability to provide tailored logistics solutions that ensure security and reliability for diverse industry needs worldwide.
Finally, DSV Panalpina, a leading global logistics provider, specialises in transporting dangerous goods with a comprehensive range of specialised services. The company adheres to international standards across its offerings, including IATA DGR for air freight, IMDG Code for sea freight, and ADR regulations for road transport. DSV Panalpina’s integrated logistics solutions encompass warehousing, inventory management, and distribution to support efficient supply chain operations. With a presence in over 80 countries, the company operates dedicated facilities that handle hazardous materials and emphasises regular training to ensure compliance with stringent safety regulations. Key markets include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, automotive, and consumer goods, underscoring DSV Panalpina’s ability to deliver secure and reliable logistics solutions tailored to diverse global industry needs.

6. Conclusions

Trade has evolved from ancient routes like the Silk Road to today’s global markets, aided by technological advancements and policy developments. The rise of e-commerce and shipping and supply chain management innovations have transformed global trade. Trade is critical in the global economy, promoting specialisation, economic growth, and innovation. Global trade encompasses a wide range of products transported through various means. Hazardous and dangerous goods present unique challenges, requiring specialised transport and storage to ensure safety in the global trade market. The market for the carriage of dangerous goods has substantially grown, with materials like chemicals, gases, and explosives playing a vital role in various industries. The transport of dangerous goods across different modes presents unique challenges. Several key players dominate the dangerous goods logistics sector, offering comprehensive services and tailored solutions for safely handling and transporting dangerous goods. Still, the market is subject to challenges, including regulatory compliance, inherent risks, and managing the environmental impact of dangerous goods.


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About the Author

Ana Casaca was, first and foremost, a Deck Officer responsible for navigational watches. Being at sea gave her a thorough perspective of the operational side of the shipping industry. She holds a B.Sc. (Honours) in Management and Maritime Technologies from Escola Nautica Infante D. Henrique (Portuguese Nautical school), an MSc in International Logistics from the University of Plymouth and a PhD in International Transport/Logistics from the University of Wales-Cardiff. Next, she became an Experienced Lecturer, Researcher and Peer Reviewer in Maritime Economics and Logistics. In between, numerous functions and roles. For 20 years, she has been an External Expert for the European Commission, evaluating R&D/CEF proposals within the scope of maritime transport. In parallel, she has carried out other projects. She has delivered training and has been invited, since 2002, to peer review academic papers submitted to well-known international Journals. She is the author of several research papers published in well-known academic journals and member of some journals’ editorial boards, namely, Maritime Business Review Associate Editor, Journal of International Logistics Editorial Board Member, Universal Journal of Management Editorial Board Member, Frontiers in Future Transportation Review Editor, and Journal of Shipping and Trade Guest Editor. She is also the founder and owner of ‘World of Shipping Portugal’ a website initiative established in 2018 focused on maritime economics. In addition, she is a Member of the Research Centre on Modelling and Optimisation of Multifunctional Systems (CIMOSM, ISEL), Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) and Member of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME). Apart from Shipping, she likes Travelling, Sewing and Arts. All these elements bring her on the quest for creativity, always with the expectation of doing something extraordinary!
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