Why do one in ten ships fly tiny Liberia’s flag?

The Economist (10/17/2019)
  • Despite a faltering economy (25% inflation), Liberia’s bright spot remains its ship registry.
  • Over 4,400 vessels (12% of global shipping) fly the Liberian flag.
  • In the 1920s, shipowners started registering abroad to avoid domestic taxes.
  • Liberia capitalized on this shift and amassed the largest merchant navy by the 1960s.
  • The Liberian Civil War (1989-2003) drove many shipowners away to countries such as Panama.
  • Liberia is regaining market share via agreement with China making it easier to ship into Chinese ports while flying Liberian flag.