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Slowdown in box throughput

New report claims protectionism is hitting port throughput in the Americas.

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According to the 2018 Q1 Global Port Development Report released by the Shanghai International Shipping Institute (SISI) the growth rate of cargo throughput at the world’s major ports in the first quarter was 3% year-on-year, 2.9% lower than the same period last year “due to annual periodical flows and trade protectionism”.

The figure above includes all cargo types, and the container sector individually did much better, with throughput rising 6% to 77.1M TEU.

Among the trends that SISI noted in the quarter was a slow down in growth at ports in the Americas. “Hindered by seasonal adjustment in the first quarter, flagged consumer spending growth and protectionist policies in the United States, container throughput of major container ports in the Americas grew a mere 4.76% year on year to 8,337,800 TEUs in the first quarter. Among the major ports, only Port of Long Beach and Port of Santos witnessed soaring growth in throughput. The throughput of Port of Vancouver, Port of Virginia and Port of Montreal just went up slightly, and those of Port of Los Angeles, Seattle-Tacoma and Houston all suffered declines to different extents.”

The slowdown, though perhaps overstated by SISI, continued at Los Angeles in April, with the port reporting total container traffic fell 1.3% to 705,536TEU.

Commenting on global terminal operators’ performance in Q1, SISI noted “all major terminal operators witnessed slower growth in equity throughput compared with the same period last year, except COSCO Shipping, whose equity throughput surged from the same period last year”.


COSCO Shipping Ports handled 22.6M TEU in Q1, up 14.7%. Measured by equity throughput that figure is a much lower 7.6M TEU, with a growth rate of 15.7% in Q1. SISI noted COSCO Shipping Ports added new terminals in 2017, including stakes in Noatum in Spain, Vado Reefer Terminal in Italy, and a terminal in the Tonghai Port Area in Nantong, Jiangsu province. The port operator also benefited from the start of the Ocean Alliance, of which COSCO Shipping is a member, which brought more calls to its terminals.

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