China-focussed terminal operator Cosco Shipping Ports (CSP) seems well on the road to recovery in the ports sector, with overall throughput rising 6.6% to 8.2m teu in August, driven by strong numbers in the Bohai Rim and new growth segments in its overseas investments as well as the Southeast and Southwest Coast markets.
Throughput in the Bohai Rim region grew 10.4% to 2.86m teu, while the overseas segment grew 36.1% to 1.13m teu. The Southeast Coast, which like the Southwest Coast is still in a rapid ramp up phase from a relatively low base, grew 17.0% to 428,900 teu while the latter, which currently only has one port in its portfolio, saw 10.3% growth at the Guangxi Qinzhou International Container Terminal, rising from 76,700 teu in August 2015 to 84,600 teu in the current period.
However, the slowing segments, which have been lagging since the beginning of the year, continue to weigh on CSP’s overall performance, although the falls seem to be flattening out to a steady slow decline, more indicative of the hollowing out of the economy that is taking place in those regions.
The Yangtze River Delta region saw throughput fall 3.6% to 1.51m teu from 1.56m teu in August 2015, while the Pearl River Delta region saw volumes slide 3.3% to 2.21m teu from 2.28m teu previously. Once again the main culprits were the Hong Kong-based terminals, Cosco-HIT Terminal, which fell 8.2% and Asia Container Terminal, which fell 19.0%. Yantian International Container Terminal, which also falls within the Shenzhen cluster of ports that Hong Kong serves saw throughput fall 8.6%, translating into a huge drop in absolute numbers, from 1.24m teu to 1.14m teu.
The Port of Hong Kong meanwhile saw the fall in its overall throughput start to level out for the first time this year. Marine Department figures show that overall throughput fell just 2.9% in August to 1.66m teu, the slowest pace of decline in 2016.
It may be however that it just reflects the low base from which to fall as the slide in Hong Kong Port volumes has been going on for well over a year now and the beginning of the high season in 2015 also signalled the start of lower numbers overall, with the 1.71m teu moved in August 2015, being the lowest volume that year since the traditional Lunar New Year lull in February/March. The numbers continued to slide throughout the rest of the previous year and if business picks up even slightly in 2016 from the previous low base, the port might even see growth in this year’s high season.
The main Kwai Tsing terminals saw volumes fall just 1.5% to 1.29m teu from 1.32m teu previously while at the non-Kwai Tsing terminals throughput fell 7.7% year-on-year 360,000 from 390,000 teu.
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