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Although growth in the global economy has been declining, the first half of 2012 has seen ports worldwide following slow but steady growth in volumes, according to ‘Global Port Development Report, Q2 2012’ issued by the Shanghai International Shipping Institute.

Global ports see steady growth

The report pointed out that weak international trade and the depressing global economic landscape had been major constraints to port development; the average increase in cargo-handling tonnage volumes of the major global ports was maintained at around 6.8% in the first half of the year, down slightly from 7.3% year-on-year. In Europe, ports fared poorly with throughput continuing its downward trend.

In terms of container throughput, global ports maintained a slight growth of 5.81% during the period, with no major variation between the first two quarters. Asia fared well compared with other regions, its 6.8% increase laying a solid foundation for the international steady growth.

Ports in the Far East recorded substantial growth in container throughput compared with other regions, although this narrowed on an annual basis; Chinese ports reported throughput of 84.1m teu, up 8.6% year-on-year but down 5% in terms of growth rate. The slowdown was indirectly caused by weak global demand.

Major coastal ports in China grew steadily, with Shanghai recording 15.94m teu, up 4.31% but with a dip in growth rate. Singapore and Busan ports revealed throughput of 15.64m teu and 8.52m teu respectively, up 7.31% and 8.36% in that order.

The report highlighted that African and American ports got off to a slow start in the first half, but ended on a strong note with rises in the first two quarters. In South Africa, Durban, Cape Town and Ngqura ports all performed well, with Cape Town reporting growth of 26.7% compared to the same period in 2011.

In contrast, American ports recorded 2.55% growth, slower but much better than the negative growth of 2011. The Port of Los Angeles, the number one port in the US, fared well with throughput at 4.01m teu, up 6.43%.

With the debt crisis continuing to hit the European port industry, sluggish economy and insufficient demand became the main obstacles; the weak domestic and foreign demand have taken their toll on the industry. The Port of Antwerp reached 4.36m teu in the first half year, down 0.88%, while the Spanish Port of Barcelona recorded 850,000 teu, down 20%.