Global seaborne trade is forecast to increase by 3 percent in 1995, to reach nearly 4.6 billion tons, a report by a specialized U.N. economic agency said.

Last year, an upturn in the world economy and a strong expansion in international commerce boosted global seaborne trade by 3 percent, to reach a record 4.4 billion tons, concludes the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, in its annual review of maritime transport for 1994.By broad cargo segments, tanker cargoes accounted for 1.9 billion tons, or 44.6 percent of the total; and dry-bulk commodities, for 2.4 billion tons, the report said.

In the dry-bulk sector, the strong gain in iron ore shipments, along with

gains in crude steel and coal, helped make up for the reduction in global grain trade. Moreover, the global liner trade last year reached 31.8 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 8.1 percent over 1993, it said.

Overall, developments last year were quite positive for the world merchant fleet, which increased by 1.3 percent, to 719.8 million deadweight tons, including oil tankers, bulk carriers, general cargo and containerships.

The average age of the fleet decreased by 3.2 percent, to 15 years, although the decline varied.

Indeed, in 1994 the average age of tankers fell by 9 percent, to 15.35 years, but for bulk carriers rose by 7.1 percent, to average 14.58 years, compared with 13.61 years a year earlier, while containerships remained the youngest, with an improved average age of 12.03 years, compared with 12.83 in 1993.

Forecasts cited by the survey estimate the world fleet will reach 883.9 million dwt. by 2005, with container and general cargo vessels likely to post

average increases of 5.4 percent over the next decade, and dry bulk and oil tankers expected to report growth rates of 4.3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Productivity of the world fleet also reached a record 6.19 tons of cargo carried per dwt., while global surplus tonnage fell by 11.9 percent, to 63.4 million dwt., Unctad said.

In 1994, Greece remained the world's leading maritime nation, with ownership of 2,937 vessels totaling 118.3 million dwt., or nearly 18 percent share of the world merchant fleet (registered under national and foreign flags); followed by Japan, with 12.9 percent; and the United States in third place, with 7.9 percent. Last year, the total tonnage in open registries rose by 3.3 percent, to 250.2 million dwt.

Liberia was the leading open registry, with 91.7 million dwt.; followed by Panama, with 86.5 million dwt.; and Cyprus, with 34.6 million dwt.

The report noted that total container traffic reached 112,4 million TEUs in 1994, of which 43.4 million were handled at ports in developing nations.

The U.N. review also observed that world sales of marine bunkers are estimated to account for around 5 percent of total world oil consumption and to be worth annually around $15 billion.