Global container ports see marginal growth in August

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Global container ports see marginal growth in August
Image by Alexander Kliem from Pixabay
  • The global container port throughput index grew 0.6% month-on-month in August based on the latest Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices
  • The MoM rise in Greater China volumes in August, alongside smaller contributions from North America, the Middle East and South Asia, offset the decrease in volumes in Europe, Oceania, Africa and Asia (excluding China)
  • For September, the estimate is for a 1.4% month-on-month increase in the index
  • In August 2023, the Greater China Container Port Throughput Index rose by 1.1% month-on-month, a 5.4% year-on-year increase
  • North American ports saw a 3.5% index rise but still lagged behind their August 2022 performance
  • The European ports index slipped 0.4%

The global container port throughput index grew 0.6% month-on-month (MoM) in August to 109.8 points but was 0.1% below the August 2022 figure, according to the Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices released on October 26.

Drewry’s insights provide a snapshot of the global container port industry’s performance in August, emphasizing the resilience of Greater China’s ports and the challenges faced by North America and Europe.

The MoM rise in Greater China volumes in August, alongside smaller contributions from North America, the Middle East and South Asia, was sufficient to offset the decrease in volumes in Europe, Oceania, Africa and Asia (excluding China).

However, the rolling 12-month average growth rate for global port handling softened marginally to -1.2% in August compared to -1.1% in July 2023.

For September, the estimate is for a 1.4% MoM increase in the global port throughput index.

The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices track how busy ports are by monitoring volume growth and decline. The indices are based on monthly data from over 340 ports worldwide representing over 80% of global volumes and serve as a crucial barometer for the industry.

Regional performance

In August 2023, the Greater China Container Port Throughput Index rose by 1.1% MoM to 115.0 points, marking a 5.4% year-on-year (YoY) increase. The Port Call Index for the region rose 4.2% MoM/1.4% YoY in September 2023 to 100.6. Overall, vessel capacity was up 3.6% MoM and 13.8% YoY.

Drewry’s Nowcast estimate indicates a surge in volumes for September 2023, with the Greater China Container Port Throughput index predicted to have increased to 120.7 points in September, marking a 5.0% MoM and a 9.9% YoY increase.

The North American Container Port Throughput Index rose 3.5% MoM, reaching 101.4 in August 2023, but remained 14.3% lower than in August 2022.

The North America Container Port Performance Index, on the other hand, worsened in September 2023, rising 16.6% MoM on the back of a 46.1% MoM increase in pre-berth waiting time, albeit from a low base, to 0.4 day on average across the regional sample ports. 

In August 2023, the European Container Port Throughput Index saw a 0.4% MoM decline, reaching 100.2 points, down 2.8% over the August 2022 level.

Russian ports have shown improvement in recent months, with St. Petersburg’s experiencing volume growth in August of 11.7% MoM and 168.5% YoY increase in August 2023.

The index figure for Africa is based on a relatively small sample, and so should be viewed with caution, according to Drewry.

Index figures for August 2023 are based on partial data; figures for September 2023 are nowcast estimates based on AIS data. Data for both periods are subject to subsequent revision.