Hong Kong container port has seen year-over-year container volume growth decelerate for three consecutive months.
Numbers from the Marine Department of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region show Hong Kong handled throughput of 1.8 million TEUs in September, down 7.3 percent from September 2013. Hong Kong’s year-to-date volume totals 16.8 million TEUs, up 1.5 percent from the same period of 2013.
The 2014 months of July and August also monthly volumes lower than in 2013. July traffic totaled 1.9 million TEUs, down 0.7 percent from July 2013 totals. August throughput was 1.87 million TEUs, 2.9 percent lower year-over-year.
The port has been operating at critical levels of congestion since mid-September, with delays in transshipment cargo transfer the main cause. Though the problems were first highlighted in the 2000s, the government has done very little to update port facilities or provide backup land for logistics. Calls from today’s giant container ships exacerbate the problem, as the port has had issued with big-ship productivity.
Many, including terminal operators and the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association, say Hong Kong is losing its competitive edge to neighboring ports.
Last year, Hong Kong slipped from No. 3 to No. 4 on the JOC’s Top 50 World Container Ports list. Hong Kong’s volumes dropped 3.3 percent from 2012 to 2013, totaling 22.4 million, in part because of a 40-day dockworker strike that held back volumes at five terminals. Shenzhen took over Hong Kong’s No. 3 spot with a total of 23.3 million TEUs.
The majority of ports in China have yet to report September numbers, though many have stronger growth rates than Hong Kong.
The Port of Busan, No. 5 on the Top 50 list, has reported 3.2 percent growth year-to-date. Its throughput through August totaled 12.2 million TEUs. The Chinese ports of Ningbo-Zhousan, Qingdao and Guangzhou also have stronger growth rates than Hong Kong. Ningbo reported 11.8 percent more cargo than 2013 with a year-to-date total of 13.1 million TEUs.
Qingdao’s year-to-date throughput is up 5 percent, totaling 11.1 million TEUs. Guangzhou has seen 7.9 percent more volume year-to-date, handling 10.5 million TEUs. Through August, Shenzhen reported 15.4 million TEUs year-to-date, up percent from the same 2013 period.