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Top 5 box ports achieve 6.8pc Q2 growth, but US-China tariffs a threat


PORTS worldwide saw commodity volumes continue to increase in the second quarter, reaching seven per cent quarter on quarter, according data published by the Shanghai International Shipping Institute (SISI) which attributed the growth to the ongoing global economic recovery.

Container throughput at the top five ports globally rose by 6.8 per cent to 40.9 million TEU in the second quarter. However, trade tariffs imposed on China by the US are increasingly regarded as a roadblock to further growth, reported FreightWaves of New York.

In retaliation against the Trump administration's decision to impose duties of 10 per cent on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports starting today, Beijing has slapped new tariffs at 5 and 10 per cent on $60 billion of American goods.

According to Baltic International Maritime Council (BIMCO) chief economist Peter Sand, a further 22.4 million tonnes of seaborne goods would be impacted by the US' $200 billion list, which amounts to a further 20 per cent of US west coast imports in 2017, or 2.24 million TEU. This would affect a total of 1.5 per cent of the global seaborne container trade.

SISI said the main growth drivers were coal and iron ore exports through Australian ports, mainly destined for China. Thermal coal exports were up 14 per cent to 19.87 million tonnes, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australia's total coal exports are expected to hit 238 million tonnes of thermal coal this year.

The largest increase in iron ore volume was recorded at the port of Hedland with exports rising 4.2 per cent to 135 million tonnes in the second quarter driven by demand from infrastructure projects in China and in countries involved in One Belt One Road.

Some major ports suffered declines in cargo throughput. Rotterdam reported a 12 per cent decrease in coal imports, mainly from Colombia and South Africa as coal-fired power plants were closed in Germany. Likewise, the port of South Louisiana experienced the most serious impact, with cargo throughput diving 7.2 per cent.

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