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Slumping port box volumes recall days of 2008-2009 financial crisis

GLOBAL container throughput figures will be down in 2020 - and by a margin comparative only to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 because of the Covid scare, reports London's Lloyd's List

02 September 2020 - 05:06

GLOBAL container throughput figures will be down in 2020 - and by a margin comparative only to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 because of the Covid scare, reports London's Lloyd's List.

The initial outbreak that began in China hit liftings at the source hard during the first quarter of 2020 and then globally through the second quarter, as the virus gradually spread.



The first quarter saw world container port handling drop by about four per cent compared with the first quarter of 2019.



This, however, was only a partial reflection of the supply-side shock caused by the Chinese production shutdown, which started in late February; ports in northern Europe did not see the full impact until late April.



The real pain was seen in the second-quarter figures, when not only were missed shipments from China evident, but the mammoth impact of the North American and European containment measures became clear.



The huge demand-side shock caused by the closure of the main consumption economies is projected to see port volumes fall by around nine per cent this year, according to London's Drewry Maritime Research.



Half-year figures at the major box facilities, too, were telling. Eight of the world's top 10 container ports reported a drop in throughput numbers in the six months through to the end of June on 2019 levels.



This included a near seven per cent decrease in liftings in Shanghai, the largest port complex; double-digit declines in Shenzhen; and a high single-digit drop at Europe's premier port, Rotterdam.



Only Tianjin and Qingdao managed to report an uptick in volumes through the first six months of 2020, but increases were minimal.


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