In the first quarter of 2013, global throughput increased compared to Q1 2012, but slowly. Performance varied between main hub ports, where it remained weak, and small- and medium-sized ports, where it often was in double digits. For instance, Singapore dropped by 5% year on year and Antwerp (Belgium) grew by a shy 1.7%. Meanwhile, Headland (Australia), Fuzhou and Huanghua (China) jumped by 20.5%, 21.5% and 27.5%.
According to SISI, the Chinese port of Ningbo-Zhoushan tops throughput ranking as it handled 182 million tonnes over the first three months of the year. Shanghai is 100,000 tonnes behind but may overtake it as it is experiencing stronger growth (5.9% YoY compared to 1% for Ningbo). Similarly, Tianjin may rise as a threat to Singapore as its throughput grew by 7% YoY to 116 million tonnes in Q1 2013.
Tianjin appears in the top four of SISI’s ranking of global ports with the greatest potential for future development, together with three other ports located in Northern China. Dalian, Yingkou and Qingdao all grew by over 10%.
Globally, container throughput recovered more slowly than expected in Q1 2013.
SISI says that competition kicked off between Shanghai (first place with 7.74M TEUs and +2.3% YoY growth) and Singapore (second place with 7.63M TEUs and +1.3% YoY growth). According to the report, the gap is narrowing between Hong Kong (543M TEUs and -2.8% YoY) and Shenzhen (529M TEUs and +4.2% YoY), as it is narrowing between Busan, in North Korea (422M TEUs and +3.2% YoY), and Ningbo-Zhoushan (411M TEUs and +9.2% YoY). SISI predicts that, if container handling remains sluggish at Busan and Hong Kong in the next three quarters, Shenzhen and Ningbo-Zhoushan will outstrip them.
Rotterdam is the only European container port in the top ten. It handled 2.8M TEUs in Q1 2013, up 0.7% from Q1 2012. SISI says that the outlook is “gloomy” for European ports, which seem “trapped in a recession with sluggish demand for consumer goods.”