HPH Trust container volumes inch down 1% in 2018

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (HPH) Trust has recorded a marginal dip in total throughput for 2018 over 2017, though volumes for Yantian International Container Terminals (YICT) posted growth on the back of higher US and transhipment cargoes.

Hong Kong-headquartered HPH Trust handled total box volumes of 24.03m teu last year, inching down 1% compared to 2017. Throughput at YICT was recorded at 13.41m teu, up 3.8% year-on-year while throughput at Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT), Cosco-HIT and ACT (Asia Container Terminals) – collectively as HPHT Kwai Tsing – came up to 10.62m teu, down 6.6%.

“YICT’s full year throughput growth was mainly attributed to growth in the US and transhipment cargoes. The drop in HPHT Kwai Tsing’s throughput was mainly due to reduction in transhipment cargoes,” HPH Trust said.

“The overall trend in outbound cargoes to the US was positive in 2018. Full year growth in US outbound cargoes was 5%; with 2018 fourth quarter growth increasing to 10% driven by the frontloading of cargoes in anticipation of the 25% tariff implementation originally scheduled for January 2019 by the US to Chinese exports. On the other hand, outbound cargoes to the EU was weak in 2018 and below 2017 by 1%,” the trust stated.

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In earnings, Singapore-listed HPH Trust registered a full year loss of HKD10.25bn ($1.3bn) as opposed to a profit of HKD2.22bn in 2017. The loss was blamed on a non-cash impairment amounting to HKD12.29bn. The impairment was taken in view of mounting global trade uncertainties, possible behavioural changes in multinational corporations including accelerating the diversification of production bases outside of China caused by trade tensions, and effects stemming from the structural changes within the shipping line industry.

“Further structural changes to container shipping lines are anticipated,” HPH Trust forecast.

“While the creation of further cost sharing alliances is not expected, further deployment of mega vessels will continue necessitating investment in port equipment and processes by deep water port operators handling these vessels.”

HPH Trust believes that the formation of the Hong Kong Seaport Alliance, announced in January between HIT, Cosco-HIT, ACT and Modern Terminals Limited, will enable better vessel berth planning and deployment and costs efficiencies to be achieved. The alliance will collaborate to operate 23 berths across eight terminals in Kwai Tsing.

Read more: Four Hong Kong container terminal operators set up alliance

Posted 13 February 2019

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Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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