Global container throughput slips by 2.5%

Port Throughput Indices for June 2021 released by Drewry show a slip back in Global Container Throughput fin April 2021 by 2.5% to 137.6 points, down from the all-time high of 141 points recorded in March 2021.   

According to Drewry, the Yearly growth of 13.8% reinstates the fact that volume recovery is well underway. While consumer demand continues to surge back towards pre-pandemic levels, enabled by growing global vaccination roll-out, supply-side challenges such as the grounding of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal and on-going equipment imbalances are holding back port volume growth.

The Chinese index reached 147.1 points in April 2021, representing approximately 12% annual growth, but stable month-on-month. The top five Chinese ports (Guangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shanghai and Shenzhen), which together handle close to 55% of China’s total throughput, reported steady growth with Ningbo leading with 20% annual and 9% monthly growth.

The index for Asia (ex-China) dipped slightly by 4.3% to 131.9 points in April 2021. This is after it reached its highest-ever level of 137.9 points in March 2021. Most of the ports have registered nil to negative month-on-month growth primarily due to clearance cargo backlogs in March.

The Middle East and South Asia region index reported a negative 5.3% monthly and positive 22.2% annual growth in April 2021. The two largest Indian ports, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mundra, continue to register year-on-year growth with JNPT registering 65% and Mundra 117% increases respectively.

The North America index, which had reached an all-time high in March 2021, dipped by 6.1% monthly to 156.5 points. This was however 25.3% higher than in April 2020, when activity had dropped due to the lockdown measures introduced in response to the first-wave Covid outbreak. The top three ports of the region – Port of New York, Long Beach and Los Angeles registered a huge annual growth of 27%, 44% and 37% respectively. These three hubs contribute more than 42% of the total container throughput of North America. Congestion continues to be a major issue across the region, with vessel queues at almost all major gateway ports.

The European Port Throughput index fell 1.9% to 122.5 points, due to the impact of delayed vessel arrivals after the grounding of the Ever Given in late March. While the 9% year-on-year improvement indicates demand recovery in the European market, it is noticeable that the index has yet to exceed the pre-pandemic high of 126.7 points recorded in May 2019, suggesting that Covid continues to drag on the region’s economics.

The Latin American index dipped 3% in April 2021 to 123.8 points, but was 9.6% higher than in April 2020. Santos, the largest gateway port in the region, reported a positive 7% increase over April 2020, but volumes declined by 13% compared to March 2021.

Oceania’s index also dipped slightly to 134.9 in April 2021, down from the 141 points recorded in March 2021. The Africa region index recovered strongly by 39.6% annually and 6.7% monthly in April 2021. Some of the South African Hubs recorded strong growth in April throughputs. However, we advise caution when considering the Africa index as it is based on small sample size.

The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 235 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes. The base point for the indices is January 2012 = 100.

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