Despite the global economic recession, Santos, the largest port in Latin America, reported a throughput of 38.4 million tons in the first half, or 3 percent higher than in the same period of 2008.
It was the port's second best result ever for the period, behind only 2007, when throughput at Santos was 38.8 million tons, according to Companhia Docas de Santos, the port's operating company. Vehicle imports continue to recover, showing a 20.8 percent growth compared with the same period in 2008. But despite growth in bulk commodities like soy, sugar and coffee, overall container movements during the first six months fell by 17.4 percent from the same period in 2008, with both imports and exports declining.
Exports over the first six months this year totaled 28.6 million tons, or 18.6 percent more than in the first half of 2008 because of growing demand for Brazilian products (sugar, coffee beans, corn, vegetable oils, citrus pellets, soybean) and liquid bulk oil derivatives (diesel oil, gas oil, gasoline and fuel oil).
Overall imports dropped by 25.5 percent, although they increased for LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), salt and wheat. The port operator also reported an all-time high in the number of ships that docked at Santos during the first half of the year -- 2,865 vessels, or 1.3 percent more than in the same period last year.
Cabotage activity grew significantly, with 474 boats, or 21.5 percent higher than during the first half 2008. This mode was responsible for 12.3 percent of total cargo, surpassing last year's figure of 11 percent.
In announcing the growth, the Santos Port Authority said that several factors combined to create favorable conditions for Brazilian agricultural exports: the exhaustion of agricultural areas, "difficulties in repositioning global stocks," increased global consumption of grains, and the global urbanization process. Soy beans and soy bran are considered two of the most promising agribusiness products with high growth potential in coming years, according to a recent study by Brazil's ministry of agriculture and fisheries. The port's soy complex (soy beans and pelletized soy) represented 20 percent of cargo movements in the Port of Santos in the first half of 2009, higher than the 17.2 percent recorded during the same period last year.
Santos' share of Brazilian export markets was 27.3 percent, worth $19.1 billion, or three times the volume of Vitoria, the second largest Brazilian port, which had a market share of 9.1 percent; and Parangaua, which had 9 percent.
Contact Alan M. Field at email@example.com.