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Global container port demand may hit 973TEUs by 2023

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Global container port demand is heading toward a modest growth and numerous uncertainties, accompanied with muted capacity expansion plans according to shipping consultant, Drewry.

Drewry, in its latest Global Container Terminal Operators report, said container port demand forecast for the next five years is for global growth of 4.4 per cent per annum on the average. This lifts world container port throughput from 784 million TEU (Twenty foot equivalent unit) in 2018 to 973 million TEU by 2023, an increase of almost 190 million TEU.

The latest five-year forecast is a far cry from the heady days of the 2000s when forecasts were around nine per cent growth annually until the global financial crisis of 2007-08 brought this to a sudden halt.Global container port capacity is projected to increase at a CAGR of around two per cent based on confirmed additions only.

This is well below the projected demand growth and reflects the continued easing off from greenfield projects by investors over the last few years.As a consequence, average utilisation at the global level is forecast to increase significantly from 70 per cent in 2018 to 79 per cent by 2023, according to Drewry.

At the regional level, almost all locations are projected to see their average utilisation levels increase, the shipping consultant noted, adding that the sharpest upward swings are expected in Greater China and Southeast Asia, with the former hitting 100 per cent by 2023.

Among the top seven individual global/international terminal operators, based on their performance, PSA and Hutchison occupy first and second places respectively, with PSA’s pre-eminence due to its 20 per cent stake in Hutchison Ports.Cosco moved up to third place in 2018 from fifth in 2017, by achieving over 30 per cent growth, boosted by the OOCL acquisition. This meant that DP World and APMT each dropped one place to fourth and fifth place respectively.

China Merchants with 35 million TEU and TiL with 26.5 million TEU remained in sixth and seventh places respectively, despite both recording double-digit growth in equity-adjusted volume.

Drewry’s Senior Analyst for Ports and Terminals, Neil Davidson, said: “A premier league of seven big operators has emerged, after which the next largest player is a third of the size. Between them they accounted for nearly 40 per cent of global throughput in 2018. Within this elite group, Cosco has moved sharply up the table in this year’s analysis.”


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