RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index suggests world trade expansion weakness might be over


During January 2017, the Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) recorded another increase, reaching 124.2 points.

Whilst the flash estimate for December 2016 needed a downwards revision (to 123.9), updated figures for November handling volumes of some ports made a strong upwards revision of the index figure for November necessary.

All in all, the index has been nothing but increasing since Summer 2016, suggesting the two year long stagnation of world trade could finally be over.

As a part of their monthly reporting many ports publish data on container throughput expressed in twenty foot equivalent units (TEU). ISL collects these data systematically in its port database. Since January 2017, the index also contains handling statistics for the port of Guayaquil. The Ecuadorian port thus became the 82nd port to be included in the computation of the index. Combined the 82 ports covered in the index account for about 6 out of 10 containers handled worldwide. The ports are continuously monitored by the ISL as part of their market analysis. Because large parts of international merchandise trade are transported by ship, the development of port handling is a good indicator for world trade. As many ports release information about their activities only two weeks after the end of the respective month, the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable early indicator for the development of international merchandise trade and hence for the activity of the global economy.

The flash-estimate for January is based on data reported by 39 ports, accounting for close to ~ 70% of the total index volume.

The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for February 2017 will be released on March 23rd.

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