In April 2020, the global container port throughput index stood at 121.6, precisely the same as in April 2017 – three years back. The index declined by 2.3 points compared to March 2020, registering a month-on-month decline of 1.9% and a year-on-year decline of 6.6%.
Although the month-on-month deviation remained low at the global level, regional indices had a wide variation in April. The index for North American increased by 7.4% while the index for Asia (excluding China) declined by 7.6%.
In February 2020 the China index stood at its lowest level since 2015. It increased to 131.3 in March 2020 and has remained stable with a negligible increase of 0.1 point in April 2020. However this is signifcantly below the April 2019 level, down by 5.7% year-on-year, on basis of weaker demand from key North American and European markets which remainded in lockdown.
Volume rebound at West Coast in the USA and Mexico ports in April raised the index for North America by 7.4% over the previous month. However, the continued adverse impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) did not allow North American throughput to reach the April 2019 level. Hence a decline of 8.2% year-on-year was witnessed. The notable feature in 2020 is the declining market share of west coast ports vis-à-vis the gulf and east coast.
Despite an improvement in March 2020 index, the Asian countries excluding China could not sustain the recovery into April 2020. The index declined by 10 points to reach 121.2 in April 2020, a decline of 7.6% month-on-month and 5.6% year-on-year. Handling at all major ports including some of the major transhipment hubs in the region declined considerably. Weaker demand from European and North American is tracking back along the intra-Asian supply chains, reducing both deepsea and intra-Asian movements.
The only region which saw improvements in its port handling is Latin America, where the index value increased by 2.1% month-on-month and 4.7% year-on-year. On the other hand, the double-digit decline was seen in Africa, although noting that our sample size is small.
The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 220 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes. The base point for the indices is January 2012 = 100.