Based on strong results of the first quarter of 2017, Alphaliner has revised upwards its forecast of container shipping volumes for the current year. Now the full year global port throughput growth is expected to reach 4.6% in 2017, compared with earlier projections of just 2-3%.
This adjustment is explained by a healthy increase of container handling at key ports around the world in Q1 2017. Thus, Alphaliner’s survey of over 150 ports shows that the global container port throughput has surged by 5.8%.
By all means, growth rates were uneven across the various regions. Ports in Africa, South Asia and Latin America showed strong volume growth, while the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Mediterranean ports posted relatively weaker, though positive, gains. The key driver of the increase was the strong performance at Chinese ports, including Hong Kong, as well as North European and North American ports.
China’s ports grew 7.3% y-o-y and this trend continued further, with April throughput up 8% percent, Alphaliner said. As we wrote earlier, Hong Kong, the world’s container port #5, handled 4.87 mln TEU in Q1 2017, achieving the highest growth of all TOP 5 ports – 12.6% y-o-y.
The strong numbers were matched by North American ports that posted a 7.4% increase in Q1 2017, based on Alphaliner’s survey of 18 main ports in the United States and Canada, which account for over 85% of the two countries’ total container volume.
North European ports grew a little less, by 6.6%, and performance among the main ports was mixed: Rotterdam +8.8%, Hamburg -0.7% and Bremerhaven -1%. Baltic ports recovered from recent weakness with Russian and Finnish ports recording growth rates of 5.2% and 4.7%, respectively.
“If the current strong momentum is maintained in the coming months, the full-year figure may be adjusted further upwards and could surpass the 5.1% volume increase recorded in 2014,” Alphaliner stated in its latest report.
The report also highlighted that the higher full year forecast for 2017 could see global throughput growth exceeding containership capacity growth for a second consecutive year. This would help to reduce the surplus capacity torturing the shipping industry since 2009.
However, Alphaliner cautions: “Despite the positive demand data, the supply overhang will still take a while to clear. Latest data shows that the active fleet has grown by 918,000 TEU y-o-y to reach 19.93 mln TEU as at mid-May, for an increase of 4.8% compared to the same period last year.”