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Further east, Istanbul was another victim of the decline


in transhipment for the Black Sea market. The ports and terminals collectively counted by Cargo Systems as “greater Istanbul” saw a 22.2% fall in throughput, a decline of 718,270teu on 2008, resulting in drop of eight places to 44 in the league table. In the southern Med, Egypt’s ports were some of the best


performers. Port Said, Alexandria and Damietta all registered positive growth – up 6.3%, 1.4% and 2.2% respectively – and each climbed several places in the world rankings. According to a recent forecast by Drewry Shipping


Consultants, Western European ports are not expected to recover to 2007/8 peak levels until 2013. Eastern Europe is a more uncertain prospect, with Drewry suggesting recovery could come at any time between now and 2015. The Middle East, though, is tipped to recover this year.


As well as the relative stability of the Egyptian ports, there were other strong performers in the Middle East, such as Salalah which grew by 425,139teu, or 13.9% in 2009 and Bandar Abbas, which increased throughput by 206,246teu, or 10.3%.


Drewry’s forecast is also optimistic about much of Asia,


where recovery to 2007/8 levels is expected in 2011. China, the powerhouse of Asia, saw its biggest ports


struggle in 2009, especially those in the south and Yangtze River regions, despite a major stimulus package initiated by the government. However, facilities in the northern Bo Hai Bay region registered growth, with Yingkou up 24.6%, Tianjin up 2.3%, Dalian up 1.1%, and Lianyungang up 1%. Elsewhere in Asia, Tanjung Pelepas managed a very


respectable increase of 422,111teu, or 7.5%, after attracting more transhipment volumes from new shipping line customers. Vietnam has continued to attract companies seeking


an alternative sourcing nation to China and India. Investments are pouring into the ports and logistics sectors with major terminal operators and shipping lines getting in on the act. The phasing-in of more direct call services on, for example, transpacific routes, helped boost Ho Chi Minh’s throughput by 184,278teu, or 4.7%. A catalyst to further growth will be the new free


trade agreement between the Asean trading group of nations and China as well as the exceptionally strong rates of trade and container growth that continue to take place within the Asian region. Although intra-Asian trade is propping up volumes at


many of the region’s ports, sustained growth will depend on a recovery in the west, particularly in North America. Last year was bleak for the United States with the


top 10 ports collectively declining by 4.8m teu, or 14%. Houston was the only US port in the Top 100 to avoid a volume contraction in 2009, though growth was virtually static at 1,878teu. Drewry forecasts that it will take until 2014 for


North American ports to recover to the 2007/8 peak levels. Latin America, though, is expected to reach those levels by 2013. The top 10 Latin American and the Caribbean ports


suffered a decline of 1.9m teu, or 10.1% in 2009, with many key transhipment hubs like Panama, Kingston and Freeport Bahamas taking the brunt. There were a few successes, though, such as Cartagena, which grew by 177,159teu (+16.7%) and Caucedo, which grew by 109,251teu (+12.8%). There were clearly significant regional variations in


2009 port performances and this will be reflected in the staggered recovery in the coming years. Many industry observers are taking about adjusting to a “new normal”, which has yet to be defined but is likely to start from a lower demand base than before the crisis. Ports and terminals now face the challenge of


optimising current terminal utilisation and assessing where and when new terminal capacity will be required in the future.


4 www.cargosystems.net August 2010


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