Thursday, July 14, 2016

CHINA PORT GROWTH AT 7 YEAR LOW

Cargo Volume Growth at China’s Ports Hits Seven-Year Low

Industry report shows the country’s trade slump is affecting its largest gateways


A container ship arrives at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in 2013. ENLARGE
A container ship arrives at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in 2013. Photo: Bloomberg News
Cargo volumes through China’s ports grew at the slowest pace in seven years in the first half of 2016, according to an industry report that showed the country’s trade slump hitting its biggest gateways.
China port container volumes rose 2.5% in the January-June period from a year ago, research group Alphaliner said in a report this week, and the ports of Shanghai and Shenzhen—China’s two biggest sites for imports and exports—both saw container traffic decline 1%.
“Overall container volumes at Chinese ports are growing at the slowest pace since 2009,” Alphaliner said in its weekly newsletter on shipping industry trends. Chinese ports registered a 4.6% drop in volumes that year.
The sluggish business at China’s main gateways comes as the country’s trade downturn is accelerating. The China General Administration of Customs reported Wednesday that China’s exports, which have long been a central piece of the global economy, declined 4.8% in May while imports fell 8.4%.
Alphaliner found the biggest growth in shipping containers, which often carry retail products and other goods with higher value than bulk commodities that feed industrial production, came at smaller ports, including river ports.
Cargo volume at China’s 10 biggest ports grew 1.4% this year compared with the first six months of 2015, behind the 2.5% growth for all ports and far below the 3.9% expansion in shipping traffic at the smaller river ports. Those ports often consolidate cargo volumes that then move to bigger coastal gateways, but they also handle a large share of domestic business.
China’s ports in all handled 105.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units, a common industry measure of container traffic, from January to June this year, according to Alphaliner.
Write to Paul Page at paul.page@wsj.com