Global container volume to hit one billion by 2020

Container volumes handled by ports worldwide is expected to increase to up to one billion twenty equivalent unit (TEU) by the end of the decade, up from 623 million TEU in 2013.

Speaking at a seminar in London, Drewry Maritime research senior manager Dinesh Sharma explained that  exponential growth anticipated in Asia, and in particular China, will help drive throughput by an average 5.5 per cent, or 40 per cent in total, between now and 2020.

The current edition of Lloyd’s List explained that to reach the one billion TEU mark during this period, transshipment volumes are expected to contribute a large chunk to the total, increasing by 140 million TEU, or 83 per cent, from 175 million TEU at present to 320 million TEU.

Sharma explained that Asia would continue to play a vital role in this volume growth with the demand for cargo continuing to grow from not just the region but also from a rising number of countries that rely on its export trade.

Sharma forecasts Asia’s share in global traffic will increase from its current 56 per cent to as much as 65 per cent by 2020.

Meanwhile, China, home to seven of the world’s top 10 largest container ports, will increase its own share from its current 30 per cent to 40 per cent during this period.

Sharma, according to agency report warned that ports both big and small will come under increasing pressure to provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate this rapid growth in demand, with particular regards to shipping lines upsizing vessels.

Sharma said this will not only require investment in larger cranes, longer berths and yard space, but also berth productivity and efficiency must be improved to meet the requirements of these larger ships.