A wave of rapid economic growth in the Bohai Rim region has prompted northern China's three major ports to forecast a 23 per cent surge in comparative growth this year, with combined throughput expected to exceed 8.8 million teu (20-foot equivalent units). Qingdao Port Authority director Tian Guangwen said the facility, the busiest in the region, handled 3.85 million boxes in the first 11 months of this year, up 24 per cent year on year, while container throughput reached 360,000 boxes last month. 'We are doing pretty well this year and our existing capacity has been fully utilised. Container throughput will come to 4.2 million teu for the whole year,' Mr Tian said yesterday. He attributed the growth to the region's rapid economic development. Shandong, Qingdao's catchment area, is the fifth-largest export province on the mainland with the value of exports reaching US$16.28 billion in the first eight months of this year, up 25.8 per cent, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Tianjin and Dalian ports have also benefited from export growth in their catchment areas, although both facilities have yet to release throughput figures for last month. The Tianjin Port Authority is projecting container throughput to jump 25 per cent to more than three million boxes this year, while Dalian expects to handle 1.66 million teu, about 23 per cent more than last year. Meanwhile, Shanghai port, the busiest on the mainland, saw year-to-date container throughput exceed 10 million boxes, according to Xinhua News Agency. It is expected to handle 11 million teu this year, making it the world's No 3 port.