Thursday, February 19, 2009

Instability in-a-box(es)


Asian box ports see alarming drop in throughput
Marcus Hand, Singapore and Sandra Tsui, Hong Kong - Tuesday 17 February 2009
ASIAN container ports are bracing themselves for a grim year ahead as they report alarming drops in volumes in January.

Box throughput at Singapore, the world’s largest container port took a 19% dive in January this year to 2m teu compared to 2.4m teu for the first month of 2008.

Singapore’s sharp drop in volumes in particular reflect the collapse in the Asia- Europe trade where it is a key relay port transhipping exports from surrounding countries to Europe and the Middle East.

The picture for world’s third busiest boxport, Hong Kong was even bleaker.

Hong Kong, saw January throughput plunge 23% in January to 1.6m teu. Its flagship Kwai Tsing Terminals moved 1.2m teu, down 19% from the same month last year.

“We think February throughput remains challenging. Suspension of trade services, especially Asia-Europe, seems to have not ended at all as announcements had been accelerating. Lay-up had increased from 300,000 teu in first half of January to about 800,000 teu in the first week of February,” said Daiwa Institute of Research analyst Geoffrey Cheng.

At Malaysia’s largest port, Port Klang, the picture was not much better. Port Klang Authority general manager Lim Thean Shiang told local press that the port had seen a 16% drop in volumes in the first month of the year compared to January 2008.

A 10% drop in throughput was projected by Port Klang for 2009 as whole, having handled 7.8m teu last year.

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