The most recent ISL Monthly Container Port Monitor (MCPM) data shows that the growth in container traffic at ports around the globe is slowing slightly. Although a modest increase was again reported in relation to the previous month, the increase only reaches 4.5% compared with July 2020, after consistently double-digit growth rates year-on-year over the last six months.
With regard to the July levels, it strikes that the ports in China and the Middle East triggered this weakening of growth with a decline in throughput. In the ten largest Chinese container ports under review, a total of 17.3 million TEU was handled in July of this year, which corresponds to a drop of 1% compared to July 2020. This decline was mainly induced by handling losses of the three largest ports Shanghai (-5.2%), Ningbo (-3.6%), and Shenzhen (-2.9%)
At the upper end of the growth scale, in addition to the ports of the U.S. West Coast, we find ports in South Africa, Oceania and, as in the previous month, Southeast Asia. Of particular note is a doubling of throughput at the Port of Ngqura in South Africa from around 45-50,000 TEU/month to over 130,000 TEU in July this year. While this record figure is primarily achieved through short-term transfers from other ports, this result demonstrates the performance of this new terminal in the Port Elisabeth metropolitan area.
Another impressive development can be observed at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico. While monthly throughput figures here were between 75,000 and 90,000 TEU in 2020, and never exceeded 130,000 TEU even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 140,000 TEU mark has been consistently exceeded in the last three months. Latest reports even indicate a throughput of 176 thousand TEU for August 2021, which corresponds to twice the value of the same month in 2020.
However, these extremely positive developments cannot make up for the somewhat slower growth in the other port regions monitored by ISL in this Port Monitor.