The volume of cargo passing through Hong Kong's ports shrank 6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year compared with the year before, reversing a 9 per cent increase in the third quarter.
Census and Statistics Department figures showed port cargo throughput fell 6 per cent year on year to 61.3 million tonnes, as global trade succumbed to the credit crunch and deepening recession.
Of this total, imports and other inward shipments, such as trans-shipments, declined 6 per cent to 34.4 million tonnes, while outward-bound cargo dropped 5 per cent to 26.9 million tonnes. Significantly, the quarter-on-quarter decline was 10 per cent, of which in-bound cargo dropped 8 per cent and out-bound shipments fell 12 per cent. For the whole year, total port cargo rose 6 per cent to 259.4 million tonnes.
With the deepening downturn sapping global demand and consumer spending, many factories in the Pearl River Delta are idle as orders dry up or are delayed.
The throughput of iron and steel recorded double-digit declines. Incoming shipments fell almost one-third year on year in the fourth quarter of last year, while out-bound shipments dropped 21 per cent. Last year, inward and outward iron and steel throughput shrank 15 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. But other commodity throughput continued to grow in the fourth quarter, including petroleum, live animals and edible animal products, as well as stone, metal scrap and waste paper.
River transport in the Pearl River Delta area increased 8 per cent in the fourth quarter year on year, but the growth was far slower than the 25 per cent jump recorded in the third quarter. Seaborne cargo by vessels outside rivers declined 11 per cent year on year compared with a 3 per cent rise in the third quarter.
For the whole year, the river trade improved 17 per cent but seaborne cargo edged up only 1 per cent.
Feeling the pinch
The deepening crisis is sapping global demand and consumer spending
Compared to 2007, port throughput in the fourth quarter last year dropped: 6%