In the first half of 2017, global container throughput continued its unexpected upturn of late 2016. Container throughput at global ports grew by 5.1 % year on year in the first quarter – significantly higher than the already optimistic 2.6 % increase forecast made by the market research institute Drewry in April. Experts currently estimate a stable increase in traffic of 4.0 % in the second quarter.
The latest estimates put throughput growth at the Chinese ports at 6.3 % in the first quarter – more than twice as high as projections suggested as recently as April. The second quarter was also considerably more positive with expected growth of 5.2 %. Although container throughput growth at the South Asian ports was also stronger than anticipated, it failed to reach the high prior-year rate of 11.2 %. The port of Singapore, for example, reported throughput growth of 6.4 % for the first half-year.
Following on from modest growth of 0.8 % last year, the north-western European ports achieved a significant upturn in volumes during the first six months of 2017. Drewry currently puts throughput 5.3 % for the first quarter and 2.2 % for the second quarter. Container throughput in Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea also rose faster than forecast in April, with growth of 8.8 % in the first quarter of 2017 and 7.4 % in the second quarter. The increase in container throughput was particularly strong at Russia’s Baltic Sea ports.
Developments at the large container ports of the North Range and the port of Gdansk were again mixed. Throughput in Rotterdam stood at 6.7 million TEU, equivalent to 9.3 % more containers than in the previous year. Antwerp reported a container volume of 5.1 million TEU for the first half, which represents growth of 1.9 % on the previous year. By contrast, the downward trend seen in previous years continued at the Bremen ports. Throughput along the river Weser amounted to 2.3 million TEU in the period from January to May 2017. This is 4.5 % less than in the same period of the previous year. After reporting strong growth in 2016, container throughput at the JadeWeserPort fell by 43 % to 75 thousand TEU in the first quarter of 2017. Following a brief dip at the beginning of the year, the Baltic Sea port of Gdansk regained its former momentum with throughput of 690 thousand TEU in the first six months, representing year-on-year growth of 6.7 %.