Throughput jumped 21pc last month due to export surge from south China Hong Kong's main container terminals moved their highest volume of cargo in at least two years last month as south China's exporters rushed to get peak-season goods to western and Asian consumers. A surge of exports from the western side of the delta coupled with concerns about congestion at ports on the west coast of the United States saw Kwai Chung operators move more than 1.28 million boxes across their docks, up a comparative 21.1 per cent. An official at the Port and Maritime Board said it was the largest monthly expansion on record. An analyst at a western investment bank said: 'Hong Kong has not seen these types of numbers for at least two years.' Overall throughput at the port - which includes cargo handled in the midstream and at river trade facilities - increased a comparative 17 per cent for the month to reach 2.09 million 20-foot equivalent units (teu). Cumulative throughput for the first eight months expanded 9.2 per cent year on year to 14.64 million teu after growth had hovered at 1 per cent for the first four months. 'We are now seeing more than 20 per cent growth in sea freight cargo this year,' said a senior executive for a global freight forwarding firm. 'It's being driven by demand in Europe. The US market is up too, but it is not as strong as in Europe.' The forwarder said shipping lines were being forced to change their operating strategies to compensate for the uncertainty caused by severe rail and road congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. 'In the past 10 weeks the congestion is making it very difficult to get goods to inland destinations through those ports,' he said. 'We have been advising our customers to reroute to avoid the trouble spots on the west coast.' The congestion had caused equipment shortages and forced exporters to ship early, driving some of the early growth at Kwai Chung, said one local shipping line executive. 'They are trying to rush whatever shipments they can because you may have to wait two to three weeks for another container to load,' he said. 'Ships are out of schedule now because of the west coast problems and we are probably going to see the same problems arising at the east coast ports because of the typhoons.' Operators plying the river trade and midstream saw an 11 per cent expansion of their business, handling an aggregate 810,000 boxes last month.