South Korea’s seaport records drop cargo volume

Cargo processed at South Korean seaports edged down from a year earlier in February, due mainly to a drop in exports and imports, the government said Thursday.

The country’s seaports handled a combined 111.878 million tons of freight last month, down 0.4 percent from 112.272 million tons tallied a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Export-import cargo, which accounted for 83.5 percent of the total, fell 2.23 percent on-year to 93.419 million tons, offsetting a 10.4 percent on-year jump in domestic shipments of 18.459 million tons.

From a month earlier, total cargo handled by local seaports contracted 10.3 percent on-month, the ministry added.

The ministry said that containers handled by South Korean ports stood at 2.01 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last month, up 1.6 percent from 1.98 million TEUs a year earlier.

Export-import container traffic edged up 2.9 percent on-year to 1.11 million TEUs last month.

South Korea’s outbound shipments fell 12.2 percent on-year in February, marking the longest-ever consecutive negative growth of 14 months, as low oil prices and the cooldown in China weighed heavily on Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

But the February decline narrowed from January’s 18.8 percent, the largest on-year fall since August 2009, on the back of a rebound in shipments of computers, wireless devices and machinery.

By port, container cargo processed at the country’s largest seaport of Busan, 453 kilometers southeast of Seoul, rose 1.8 percent on-year to 1.56 million TEUs, while runner-up Incheon saw the number fall 3.4 percent on-year to 166,000 TEUs.

Busan, meanwhile, rose to become the world’s fifth busiest container port in freight handled in February, beating the former No. 5 Hong Kong.

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