Trend

The Container Throughput Index of the RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute for Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) dropped shaprly by 10.9 points in February according to the current flash estimate. It is the strongest drop ever observed. The fall was mostly a result of the development in Chinese ports.

The most important results:

  • The seasonally adjusted Container Throughput Index of the RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute for Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) dropped by 10.9 points to 102.5 in Feburary.
  • At the same time, the Index for January was revised downwards as expected, namely by 2.2 points down to 113.4.
  • The driving force of the drop were the Chinese ports, but also ports at the U.S. West Coast handled significantly less containers.
  • In the U.S., the trade conflict with China had a negative impact. The COVID-19 pandemia will only show its impact in March.
  • In China, the drop will be mostly due to missing terminal handling capacities as many port workers returned to the ports late after the Chinese New Year holidays due to quarantine measures. The halt of industrial production due to the COVID-19 pandemia and the related drop of imports and exports is likely to show its full effect in March only.
  • The flash estimate for February is based on information from 44 ports representing 65 percent of the handling volume represented in the index.
  • The RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index for March 2020 will be published on 30 April 2020.

RWI’s Chief Economist on the development of the Index: “In February, we saw a drop of the index like never before. We expect a further decrease in March.”

About the RWI / ISL container handling index:
The index includes the information on container throughput in 89 international ports, which is continuously collected as part of the ISL Monthly Container Port Monitor, and which accounts for around 60 percent of global container throughput. Port Said (Egypt), Busan, Inchon and Kwangyang (all South Korea), Prince Rupert (Canada), Baltimore (USA), Le Havre (France), Naples and Salerno (both Italy) are new to the reporting ports from January 2020, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Klapeida (Lithuania) and Sines (Portugal) are no longer represented due to missing data deliveries.
Since international trade is essentially carried out by seagoing ship, container transshipment allows reliable conclusions to be drawn about world trade. Because many ports report on their activities just two weeks after the end of a month, the RWI / ISL container handling index is a reliable leading indicator of the development of international trade in processed goods and thus also of global economic activity.
Data series for individual ports are available in the ISL Monthly Container Port Monitor. Further background information on the RWI / ISL container handling index can be found at www.rwi-essen.de/containerindex.