LONDON: The outlook for the container shipping industry is looking promising amid forecasts that volumes will outstrip supply growth for a second straight year in 2017, on the back of a strong first quarter across the world's leading box ports. Alphaliner anticipates that full-year global port throughput will expand by 4.6 per cent this year, up from earlier projections of two to three per cent growth. During the first quarter, global container port throughput is estimated to have risen by 5.8 per cent based on Alphaliner's survey of 150 ports.
Growth rates across the various regions remain mixed. Ports in Africa, South Asia and Latin America recorded strong volume growth, while ports in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Mediterranean posted 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 per cent year on year," Alphaliner's latest weekly report said.
"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 19.93 million TEU as at mid-May, for an increase of 4.8 per cent compared to the same period last year," Alphaliner was cited as saying.
"Most of the increase came from a reduction in the idle fleet from a high of 1.59 million TEU at the end of October 2016 to 0.5 million TEU currently.
The idle capacity currently stands at 2.5 per cent of the total fleet, having shrunk from last year's high of 7.8 per cent."