With global container volume forecast to increase by strong single digits annually in the next five years, port congestion could once again become a problem, says an analyst.
Problems could become especially serious in fast-growing areas of the Far East and the Middle East, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants' latest port sector report, Annual Review of Global Container Terminal Operators 2010.
The Great Recession of 2008-2009 caused container volumes at the world's ports to decline for the first time ever. Global container throughput fell from 524 million 20-foot equivalent units in 2008 to 473 million TEUs in 2009, a drop of almost 10 percent.
Neil Davidson, senior advisor on ports for Drewry, said, "2009 was a year the like of which has never been seen before. Historically, for global terminal operators, it has always been about expanding and adding capacity as quickly as possible. Then, suddenly, they were all faced with changing their mindset towards drastic cost control and halting of projects."
With economic prospects now brighter, Drewry has revised its medium-term container trade growth projections upwards - although still nothing like the double-digit growth rates seen in the heady years of the early part of the 2000s.
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