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Drewry: Container Port Throughput Index Down By 3.4% During November 2020, First Decline Since February

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.

After reaching an all-time high of 139.6, Drewry’s container port throughput index contracted by 2.4% (3.4 points) to 136.1 points in November 2020, a milder seasonal contraction compared to recent years. The index was more than 6 points (4.7%) higher than in November 2019, driven by strong growth in China and North America.

China, the largest region in the index, witnessed the monthly decline for the first time since February 2020, falling by 2.9% to 147.6 points in November 2020. Looking at the top five Chinese hubs, Ningbo and Tianjin reported monthly declines of more than 10%, and Shanghai posted a 4.7% reduction in throughput. While in a normal year we would be expecting to see a seasonal slowdown in demand, in 4Q20 the continued growth in freight rates indicates that there are supply-side factors in play – and the shortfall of empty containers in China is therefore seen to have been a key factor in dampening growth in port volumes. Notwithstanding these challenges, the China index was 10 points (7.5%) higher than in November 2019.

The port throughput index for Asia (except China) posted a decline of 1.1% on both a monthly and annual basis in November 2020. Volumes at Singapore were 3.2% down month on month, and Port Klang witnessed a 6.2% monthly decline in November. These two contribute close to 40% to the total throughput of the region.

After reaching an all-time high of more than 162 points in October 2020, North America also witnessed a monthly decline of 5% in November 2020. Combined throughput at the San Pedro Bay ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach dropped 6% in November 2020 compared to the preceding month. Overall the index remained 15% (20 points) higher year on year as a result on the US import boom.
European ports are faring less well, with the index contracting to 117.5 – a 3.1% monthly and 0.4% annual decline. The continent’s battle with the coronavirus continues, and the second wave outbreak has been met with another round of lockdown measures which is adding to economic woes.

The index for Latin America increased by 0.9% in November 2020 over the previous month to reach 118.6 points, 2.5% (2.8 points) higher than in November 2019. Panama’s transhipment hubs have been among the stand-out performers in the region, offsetting declining volumes at Cartagena (Colombia).

The index for the Middle East and South Asia declined by 2.4% monthly, but witnessed a 4.6% annual growth to 127.3 points. The decline was because of the falling throughput at South Asian ports with handling at Middle Eastern hubs remaining almost constant in November 2020.

After reaching its highest-ever figure of 144.7 points in October 2020, the Drewry Container Port Throughput Index for Oceania declined 1.3% to 143 points in November 2020, but 3.2% higher than in November 2019.
The container throughput index for Africa reached 104.1 points in November witnessing a 7.8% monthly and 4.8% annual growth. The index for Africa is however based on a small sample.

Source: Drewry

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