Home » Breaking News, Ports/Terminals » Asian ports increasing share of global container traffic—report

In the last 10 years container throughput at global ports has more than doubled, with Chinese ports increasing their volume share by 30 percent, according to the latest port sector report of Drewry Maritime Research.

The “Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Review & Forecast 2012” also noted over the past decade the dramatic increase in container ship sizes, the emergence of  Asian ports as dominant players on the world stage, and the consolidation of shipping lines into fewer and fewer alliances.

Since 2002, global container port throughput has increased by more than 100 percent, from 279.3 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 588.8 million TEUs in 2011, while the share of Chinese ports has grown from 19 percent in 2002 to 30 percent last year.

“Almost one in three teu handled worldwide is handled in a Chinese port today,” Drewry said.

Meanwhile, on a total TEU basis, global terminal operators now account for over 75 percent of world throughput compared with 58 percent in 2002 (although on an equity-adjusted basis, the figure today is less than 45 percent). The largest container ship in service in 2002 was just 7,000 TEUs; today it exceeds 15,000 TEUs, with 18,000 TEU ships on the way.

This year’s report also said that while port congestion is still largely absent, the 6 percent growth in annual container port demand means that pressure could easily build in certain regions towards 2017, especially in Asia.

The report, representing the 10th year of release of the publication, also observed that the top five international terminal operators of 10 years ago are still largely the same.

On a TEU basis, Hutchison Ports still leads, with PSA and APM Terminals having exchanged second and third places. In fourth place is DP World, the position which P&O Ports (purchased by DP World in 2006) used to occupy. New entrant in fifth place in 2011 is the Cosco Group, reflecting the emergence of Chinese players.

The industry outlook in 10 years’ time is likewise tackled. Neil Davidson, report editor and Drewry’s senior advisor for ports, said global container port throughput will exceed 800 million TEUs by 2017. “On this basis, within 10 years from now, the industry will easily be in excess of one billion teu per annum—and this based only on single digit growth each year.”

He added: “It’s also quite possible that ships in excess of 20,000 teu will be in service on the main east-west routes. Regardless of the current economic uncertainties therefore, the industry is facing a huge challenge in terms of growth—on more than one front.”


Photo: Derell Licht

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