The global economy appeared to be ticking along in the first quarter, with cargo throughput at all Major Ports rising by 3.4% from the first quarter of 2018, according to the Shanghai International Shipping Institute’s (SISI) latest Global Port Development Report for Q1 2018.
However, throughput growth at Chinese Ports slowed down, falling 4.1 percentage points to 3.1bn tonnes, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2016. Among the segments, domestic trade was relatively worse hit, falling 5.8 percentage points as policy adjustments and a high base from the robust growth in the first three quarters of last year weighed on the figures.
But international trade throughput remained relatively stable, with Chinese Ports handling 1.0bn tonnes, an increase of 5.0% year-on-year.
Among Chinese Ports the continuing rise of the Southern Ports remains on trend, with Port of Guanghou seeing a spectacular 11% rise in throughput to jump one place to the fifth largest port in terms of cargo throughput while Port of Qingdao, which saw almost flat growth dropped down to sixth place from fifth previously. Port of Tianjin, previously a key port in the Bohai Rim region, saw throughput plunge 7%, dropping it two places to ninth and fellow northern Port of Dalian dropped to the bottom of the top 10 port rankings with its 4% fall in throughput.
Global container trade volumes showed stable growth momentum, rising 6.0% to 77.2m TEUs. Among the major global terminal operators, all except COSCO Shipping Ports saw slower growth, SISI said.
In the first quarter, COSCO Shipping Ports saw total container throughput rise 14.7% to 22.7m TEUs. In contrast, most major US container ports saw slower growth, hindered by seasonal adjustment in the first quarter, flagging consumer spending and protectionist policies.
Throughput of Major Container Ports in the Americas grew 4.8% to 8.3m TEUs in the first quarter. Among the Major Ports, only Port of Long Beach and Port of Santos saw good growth while throughput at Port of Vancouver, Port of Virginia and Port of Montreal saw a slight increase, and those of Port of Los Angeles, Seattle-Tacoma and Houston all suffered declines.
Strong market demand in China and India meanwhile drove stable growth in Australia’s coal exports, while US coal export volumes also grew rapidly as a result of policy incentives. Overall coal throughput of global ports continued to rise, SISI noted.