The Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) decreased significantly from 135,5 (revised figure) to 133,0 in the month of March. It remains unclear in how far this reflects first consequences of the rising tension in the trade policy talks between the USA and China. The throughput decrease that the US Pacific ports and even some Chinese ports experienced in March is noticeable. However, the data reliability is less certain than usual. The figures for January and February were much higher after revision but data for an uncommon high number of ports is still missing.
The index is based on data continuously collected from world container ports by ISL as part of its market monitoring. 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. As of 2018, the index is compiled based on data of 88 ports. Together these ports account for ~60% of worldwide container handling. The flash estimate for March is based on data reported by 49 ports, accounting for three quarters of the total index volume.
The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for April 2018 will be released on 23 May 2018.