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Forecast of higher throughput growth bodes well for container shipping: Alphaliner

The outlook for container shipping may further brighten up with throughput growth anticipated to outpace supply growth for a second consecutive year in 2017, as global port throughput growth has been revised upwards in view of a strong first quarter, according to Alphaliner.

The full year global port throughput growth is expected to reach 4.6% in 2017, revising up from earlier projections of 2-3%, in view of healthy volume growth recorded across key container ports in the first quarter.

During the first quarter, global container port throughput is estimated to have grown by 5.8% based on Alphaliner’s survey of over 150 ports globally.

Growth rates across the various regions remained mixed. Ports in Africa, South Asia and Latin America show strong volume growth, while the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Mediterranean ports posted relatively weaker – albeit positive – gains.

“A key driver of the higher than expected growth in the first quarter was the strong showing in Chinese ports (including Hong Kong) as well as North European and North American ports. Growth in both regions exceeded 6% year-on-year,” Alphaliner stated in its latest weekly report.

The report highlighted that the higher full year forecast for 2017 could see global throughput growth surpass containership capacity growth for the second straight year. This would help to reduce the surplus capacity overhang that has persisted since 2009.

“Despite the positive demand data, the supply overhang will still take a while to clear. Latest data from Alphaliner shows that the active fleet has grown by 918,000 teu year-on-year to reach 19.93m teu as at mid-May, for an increase of 4.8% compared to the same period last year,” Alphaliner said.

“Most of the increase came from a reduction in the idle fleet from a high of 1.59m teu at the end of October 2016 to 0.5m teu currently. The idle capacity currently stands at 2.5% of the total fleet, having shrunk from last year’s high of 7.8%.”

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