Global container port throughput figures
seem to indicate in clear terms that the prolonged effects of the 2009 global
financial crisis in the shipping industry have come to an end.
Alphaliner’s quarterly port survey says
the global throughput grew 7.7% year-on-year.
The quarterly covers 200 ports representing about 75% of global container
This was the highest rate of growth
since the beginning of 2011, which, in turn, had marked the end of a worldwide
inventory restocking phase in the aftermath of the crash.
The third quarter saw a continuation of
the 7.4% and 5.8% gains seen in the first and second quarters, respectively,
and growth was seen in every region, even Latin America and its previously
moribund economic engine, Brazil.
South and Central American volumes grew
10% overall, led by double-digit growth across Mexico, while the key Brazilian
gateway of Santos grew 6.6%. Growth was also seen at Rio Grande, Paranagua and
The developed western markets of North
America and Europe also saw a strong recovery in volumes, buoyed by the
continued strength of the US economy. North American ports saw a combined
growth of 8.7%; North Europe by 4.7% and the Mediterranean and other South
Europe regions by 8.2%.
Growth at China’s ports, including Hong
Kong, hit 9.3%, outpacing other ports in both North and South-east Asia, which
grew 4.3% and 4.2% respectively.
The strongest ports were container
gateways, rather than transhipment hubs. The chief import receiving gateways of
Los Angeles, New York and Rotterdam all saw double-digit increases, although
growth was more muted at Antwerp and Hamburg, which saw increases of 5.8% and
And double-digit growth was also seen at
a host of Chinese export gateways.
The picture for transhipment hubs was
far more mixed, however, as the effect of the new alliance structures made
themselves felt. Singapore was up 9.9%; the 2M’s Malaysian transhipment hub of
Tanjung Pelepas 13% and even Hong Kong reversed a long-term decline to post
4.9% growth in volumes.
In contrast, Malaysia’s Port Klang was
down 15.1%, and Algeciras continued to feel the effects of nearby competition
from Tangiers and Spanish competitors such as Las Palmas and Valencia to post a
drop of 19.4% in volumes.
As has become increasingly obvious,
however, strong demand failed to propel freight rates as the industry-wide
introduction of new capacity outpaced even the strong underlying volumes.
“Despite the high-volume growth rate
recorded in the third quarter, carriers have largely failed to capitalise on
the improved demand conditions,” said Alphaliner.
“Total effective capacity growth has
outpaced the growth in demand, reaching 8.1% at the end of September this year,
due to the combined effects of new ship deliveries and a reduction in the idle
It expected the increase in the global
fleet to continue through to the end of the year, with the capacity increase
reaching 9% by the end of last month.