Updated at 7.02pm: Hong Kong's total port cargo throughput decreased by three per cent in the first quarter of 2005 compared with a year earlier to 53.6 million tonnes, latest statistics released on Thursday showed. Census and Statistics Department figures showed that inward port cargo decreased by two per cent to 33.5 million tonnes, while outward port cargo decreased by six per cent to 20.1 million tonnes. 'The decrease in total port cargo throughput in the first quarter should be seen against the background of a high base of comparison, as total port cargo throughput reached a peak in the first quarter of 2004 with a year-on-year increase of 12 per cent,'' a government spokesman said. But he said on a seasonally-adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, total port cargo throughput rose by two per cent in the first quarter. According to the statistics, inward port cargo rose by six per cent, while outward port cargo decreased by five per cent during this time. In the first quarter, Hong Kong handled 5.1 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of containers. This represented a slight decrease of one per cent compared with a year earlier. Hong Kong has one of the world's busiest ports. Port throughput generally measures the average quantity of cargo that can pass through a port on a daily basis from arrival at the port to loading onto ships or planes, or from the discharge to the exit from the port. Throughput is usually expressed in tonnes.