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Global container terminal industry seen remaining a successful business


Maritime insight and intelligence provider Drewry has said that despite the many challenges, the global container terminal industry will remain a very solid, profitable business. It expects 2019 industry throughput to be over 800 million TEUs, which will generate EBITDA in excess of $25 billion.


As per a communiqué, its analysis on some other factors is as follows:


Demand: There will be a softening of the global container port demand growth rate, down from an estimated 4.7 per cent in 2018 to just over 4 per cent in 2019 (although 4 per cent is still very respectable and adds over 30 million TEUs to the world total). However, the projection for 2019 is highly uncertain due to the US-China tariff wars, Brexit, etc. So there is a big caveat.


Capacity: One can expect to see continued caution by investors and operators in terms of investment in new capacity because returns are not what they used to be. Even Chinese players may be affected if China’s economy slows markedly. Greenfield expansion projects will be the area hardest hit. Nevertheless, a global capacity addition of over 25 million TEUs can be expected in 2019, representing a spend of ~ $ 7.5 billion


Ships: The good news for the industry is that there will be no significant increase in maximum containership size (maximum TEU intake is going up but physical dimensions are not). However, cascading will still be very much at work across all trade routes, and each port will see increasing pressure on whichever berths are able to handle the biggest ships (and increased obsolescence of older berths).


IT: The opportunities offered by digitisation/automation/blockchain/smart ports/IoT/hyperloop (the list goes on) will continue to be vigorously explored by both terminal operators and port authorities. However, the big challenge remains: how to find the way through the minefield of options to focus on what will really work and what has the best potential.


Supply chain: Linked closely to these, terminal operators and port authorities will continue to seek to expand their activities beyond the port gate into the wider supply chain, to try and diversify sources of revenue, tie in traffic and get closer to cargo owners. But it’s a crowded field, with the heavyweight liner shipping companies aiming to do the same thing. Remains to be seen if anyone can succeed at it, Drewry said.


Source : Exim News Service -London, Jan. 10


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