Mainland ports see volumes drop further

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 July, 2009, 12:00am

Preliminary data suggests throughput at the mainland's leading ports worsened last month from May, although other indicators such as the purchasing managers' index, which measures manufacturing activity, improved.

Container throughput at Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), which operates the Shanghai port, was 2 million 20-foot equivalent units (teu), representing a 17.8 per cent year-on-year drop, while the volume of cargo handled fell 7.6 per cent to 3.05 million tonnes, according to the China Association of Port of Entry.

The figures were worse than in May, when SIPG's throughput was 2.08 million teu, representing a 12.4 per cent drop, while cargo volume fell 6.9 per cent to 3.2 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, Chiwan port in western Shenzhen had an average daily throughput of 11,000 teu last month, compared with 12,000 to 13,000 teu in May, said Nomura International analyst Jim Wong, citing Shenzhen port authorities.

Daiwa Institute of Research analyst Geoffrey Cheng cautioned that a better understanding of last month's performance requires data on laden and empty containers.

Although Shenzhen's container throughput in May was 13.4 per cent higher than April, the number of laden containers handled was only 3 per cent higher as there was a large increase in empty boxes, Mr Cheng said.

A Citigroup report by Ally Ma estimates throughput at leading mainland ports declined last month from May, while outbound container freight rates have been falling.

'This could indicate China's June export slump may continue to deteriorate. With global consumption dismal and destocking still on, we don't expect China exports and containers to recover soon,' Ms Ma wrote.

Meanwhile, mainland exports fell last month, but at a slower pace than May, Associated Press quoted Vice-Minister of Commerce Chen Jian as saying yesterday.

'From January to June, the trade data fell year on year, but in June the decline narrowed. Some individual products rebounded,' Mr Chen said.

Mr Cheng said freight forwarders in Hong Kong and on the mainland had also seen improved orders from the United States in anticipation of consumer demand this autumn, the back-to-school season for students.

In another optimistic sign, the US purchasing managers' index, although still in contraction, improved from 42.8 in May to 44.8 in June, while the eurozone PMI improved from 40.7 to 42.6, Mr Wong said. A figure above 50 indicates expansion.

An improvement in PMI in the US and Europe normally would reflect on the mainland's trade and container throughput figures three to four months later, Mr Wong said.

Shrinking trade

Shanghai International Port Group handled 2 million teu last month

The month's container throughput was equal to a year-on-year drop of: 17.8%