World container handling: rough seas ahead after solid growth in 2018

Container handling in world-wide ports increased by a solid 4.9 % in 2018 according to a recent evaluation of the Bremen-based “Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics” (ISL). While preliminary estimates had been available earlier already, at this point (June 2019), the ISL researchers have collected the official data reported for 372 ports, accounting for 676 million TEU handled in 2018.

“This comparatively high growth is of course appreciated by the industry,” said Prof. Dr. Burkhard Lemper, managing director at the ISL. “At the same time,” Lemper continued, “we are worried when we are looking at the preliminary data for 2019, while hearing that the World Bank has just lowered their 2019 GDP forecast by a noticeable amount and sees evidence of reduced investment activity in 2019 so far.”

The preliminary data, which Burkard Lemper is referring to, is available freely on the internet. The “RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index” is based on a sample of global seaports, releasing monthly container handling figures in a timely manner. These figures are currently available for Jan 2019 to Apr 2019 and indicate that global container handling has slowed down significantly during 2019. According to the RWI/ISL-index, the growth during the first four months of 2019 equalled merely 2.4 %.
“As the trade conflicts have escalated in an unexpected fashion, and is not clear how they may evolve, it is entirely open, how the growth of box handling could turn out in the second half of 2019,” said Prof. Dr. Burkhard Lemper.

The ISL SSMR 2019-5/6 will highlight these and other various developments concerning the major container and general cargo markets and is available via our Webshop.