HPH Trust cautiously optimistic for 2018, barring trade, geopolitical tensions

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust sees the year ahead as being “transformative” for the global shipping line industry but remains “cautiously optimistic” about cargo volume.

This would be “driven by shifting economic trends and trade flows in conjunction with the consolidation of ownership”, the trustee-manager which manages terminals in Hong Kong and Yantian, said.

HPH Trust said first quarter throughput at its ports rose 5% year-on-year to 5.5m teu. Among these, Yantian International Container Terminal’s throughput was 9% above last year, while combined throughput at its Kwai Tsing terminals of HIT, COSCO-HIT and ACT rose 1%.

This was driven by continued growth of 2% in outbound cargoes to the US although EU exports were flat. This is reflected also in the revenue spread for the first quarter which showed that Hong Kong’s share of the pie fell from 39% in the first quarter of 2017 to 26% currently, even though HPH Trust has more terminals in the city.

It forecast that “overall 2018 global trade outlook remains positive, with solid trade volume growth recorded in the first quarter of 2018 although this, by and large, is still susceptible to the uncertainties and downside risks arising from protectionist US trade policies and geopolitical tensions”.

HPH Trust further noted that the lines will continue to deploy mega-vessels to attain capacity and fleet optimisation to drive further cost efficiencies. “As such Investment in the modernization and expansion of port facilities is expected to continue to drive overall efficiencies and competitiveness,” HPH Trust said.

Other trends include a shift in focus from port performance to supply chain performance to enhance competitiveness and operational efficiencies as well as greater emphasis on security amidst the growing threat of cyber-attacks.

“HPH Trust is well positioned to support the changing requirement of the container shipping industry and maintain its reputation as the preferred gateways to the vast Pearl River hinterland,” it concluded. 

Posted 16 April 2018

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Vincent Wee

Asia Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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