Drewry Global Container Port Throughput Index Down by 0.7% in Annual Basis
Drewry’s container port throughput index has seen a monthly decline of half a percent, dropping to 127.7 points in December 2019. However, it was one point down (0.7%) when compared with December 2018.
The monthly fall in the global index can be attributed to the poor performance in the largest region – China – which saw a further decline of around four points (3.0%) in December 2019. This is due in part to China reaching a Phase 1 trade deal with the US, which has seen shippers hold off importing products until 2020. There was also an earlier wind-down in manufacturing in the run-up to the Chinese New Year, which fell 11 days earlier in 2019 compared with 2018. Our outlook in 1Q20 is for further reductions in the Chinese port throughput, with the traditional New Year shutdown already extending well into February 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
North America saw the largest annual decline of any region in December 2019. The throughput index was at 133.7 points, 6.6% lower than in December 2018. However, it was slightly up (0.5%) when compared with November 2019. The region outperformed in 2018 due to fears of a tariff hike, which resulted in advance cargo bookings, accounting for the magnitude of the year-on-year decline.
The index for Europe was 2.6% lower at 117.2 in December 2019, compared with December 2018. However, on a monthly basis, the decline was only 0.4%. This was the lowest European port index value recorded in 2019, below the traditional low point in February. Therefore, it was an early warning sign for an underlying slowdown, which will be masked by the coronavirus impact in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Latin America was a star performer with a 3.1% monthly and 3.6% annual increase in container throughput in December 2019. The index for Latin America was 113.7 points in December 2019, so sitting well below most other regions despite recent strong growth.
In contrast, the African region recorded the largest decline of six points, reaching its lowest level of 95 points since January 2016. After looking at the time series data, it is evident that a steep drop in December is the norm. It is also cautioned that the port sample for Africa is relatively small, and therefore, the index may not be presenting the full picture.