Cosco Pacific heads into December with throughput up 10 percent

Cosco Pacific heads into December with throughput up 10 percent

HONG KONG — Cosco Pacific, the port operating arm of China’s largest shipping company, has growth its throughput by 10 percent from January through November this year, a reflection of strong export volumes that kept its terminals busy during the second half.

The port operator handled 61.7 million 20-foot containers in the 11-month period as most of its China terminals, and all overseas investments, posted positive results. 

Bohai Rim terminals handled the greatest China share of Cosco Pacific’s throughput, with 23.2 million TEUs crossing the wharves of its container ports in Qingdao, Tianjin, Dalian and Yingkou since January, a growth of 6.5 percent. Tianjin Five Continents International Container Terminal Co. saw the most containers being handled in November (215,000 TEUs) and in the 11 months from January through November (2.36 million).

Throughput at the Pearl River Delta terminals was up 12 percent from January through November year-over-year, with the number of containers handled rising to 17.34 million TEUs. Hutchison Port Holdings Trust’s Yantian International Container Terminals (YICT) was the star performer in the PRD, growing 8.3 percent to 10.6 million TEUs in the 11-month period after a strong November.

Unsurprisingly, Cosco-HIT terminal in Hong Kong dragged down the PRD port numbers, falling 1.6 percent compared to the January-November period last year. The HPH joint venture handled 135,000 TEUs in November and 1.5 million 20-foot containers from January through November.

Port congestion has troubled Hong Kong container port for much of the year as increasing volumes, larger ships and complex alliance structures led to bottlenecks and delays that have proved difficult to overcome.

Cosco Pacific acquired 40 percent of Hong Kong’s Asia Container Terminals in March so year-over-year comparisons were not available, but the CT8 West terminal handled 119,000 TEUs in November.

Ningbo Yuan Dong Terminals was by far the best performing terminal in the Yangtze Rover Delta, growing its throughput by 33.7 percent in November and 14.3 percent for the 11 months since January compared to the same period last year. The terminal handled just short of 3 million TEUs.

Shanghai Pudong International Container Terminals saw its container throughput in November drop sharply compared to the same month last year at 187,000 TEUs, but strong growth earlier in the year saw the 11-month figure rising by 8.4 percent year-over-year to 2.2 million 20-foot containers.

In a region Cosco Pacific labeled as “Southeast Coast and others”, the four terminals at Quanzhou, Jinjiang, Xiamen and Kao Ming handled 3.4 million TEUs in the first 11 months, up 16.3 percent year-over-year. Xiamen Ocean Gate Container Terminal posted the strongest growth at 36.8 percent compared to the first 11 months of last year, handling 750,000 TEUs, while Kao Ming Container Terminal Corp. handled the most boxes with 1.2 million 20-foot containers tallied in that period.

But it is in the overseas terminal segment that Cosco Pacific is seeing the most impressive gains in boxes. The 17.8 percent improvement in throughput from January through November saw 8.6 million boxes handled at its terminals in Piraeus, Suez, Singapore and Antwerp. Antwerp Gateway and the Cosco-PSA joint venture in Singapore both grew by more than 26 percent in the 11 months year-over-year.

Citi Research said in a note to customers that its analysts expect China’s major ports’ foreign trade throughput to grow by 6-7 percent, similar to that of 2014.

“This year has seen improvement in global trade due to the recovery of the world economy, especially for the U.S,” the note said. “China’s trade growth has accelerated in the second half to 7.7 percent year-over-year, much better than the first half’s 1.2 percent. China’s top eight container ports’ foreign trade has grown by 6.4 percent year-over-year, higher than 2013’s 4.5 percent growth, which confirms the moderate demand improvement observed in advanced economies.” 

Contact Greg Knowler at gknowler@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.