GLOBAL container port throughput is forecast to rise from 784 million TEU in 2018 to 973 million TEU by 2023 based on the estimate that the world's ports will collectively achieve average growth of 4.4 per cent per annum over this five-year period, according to a report by London-based maritime research consultancy Drewry.
The predicted growth rate is far lower than the level reached in the heady days of the 2000s when forecasts were of nine per cent growth per year until the global financial crisis of 2007-08 brought this to a halt, Drewry pointed out.
Global container port capacity is anticipated to rise by just two per cent a year, based on confirmed additions only. This figure reflects the ongoing easing off from greenfield projects by investors over the past few years.
As a result, average utilisation on a global scale is predicted to go up from 70 per cent in 2018 to 79 per cent by 2023.
The most dramatic upward swings on utilisation level is expected in Greater China and Southeast Asia, with the former reaching 100 per cent by 2023.
"The previous very rapid pace of capacity expansion is on hold, with the focus instead being on consolidation of port and terminal ownership into large groups. This, plus the uncertainty about China's international trade growth in the face of tariff wars and protectionism, suggests that the government is taking a cautious approach," said Drewry analyst Neil Davidson.
Currently, the world's top seven terminal operators are PSA International, Hutchison Ports, China Cosco Shipping, DP World, APM Terminals, China Merchants Ports, and Terminal Investment Limited (TIL). Together, they generated 40 per cent of global throughput in 2018.