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Chinese ports overcome corona challenges

The majority of the main Chinese ports have reported a Year-on-Year container throughput increase from the beginning of the year through to October, despite the Covid-19 challenges which have slowed down the transportation movements worldwide.

In particular, the port of Tianjin has marked the largest TEU increase of 5.3%, Quingdao has seen a 3.2% box volume growth, while the ports of Ningbo & Zhoushan, Xiamen, Shenzhen and Guangzhou have seen more modest improvements below 2.5%, according to Ningbo Shipping Exchange (NBSE) reports.

Overall container throughput at Chinese ports, from January to October 2020, saw 217.2 million TEU handled, a moderate year-on-year decrease of 0.03%. The chart below shows the cargo throughput and container throughput data of the eight major ports in China.

Source: Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China.

The increase in container volume is mainly due to the continued recovery of China's manufacturing industry and the continuous increase in export orders, which has promoted the rapid growth of China's port container throughput, according to Xiaowei Xu, container shipping industry researcher of Ningbo Shipping Exchange.

Obviously, the effective management of the pandemic crisis has played a key role in the positive results of the Chinese ports.

"Facing the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, Chinese ports insisted on co-ordinating and advancing epidemic prevention and control, resumption of work and production, and services for economic and social development," Xiaowei Xu told Container News.

He went on to explain that to ensure the operation of the ports and the flow of major trade lane services, "relevant government departments have issued policies to gradually exempt import and export cargo port construction fees, halve the levy of ship oil pollution damage compensation funds, reduce port operating service charges, increase overtime subsidies for dock workers and truck drivers, and promote the reduction of logistics costs."

At the same time, only two ports in China have shown declines in their volumes during 2020, Shanghai and Dalian. The Port of Shanghai has reported a modest decrease of 1.7%, but Dalian has suffered a huge 38.2% decline in its year-on-year container throughput, according to NBSE data.

Dalian port's poor container performance is mainly due to its focusing on transforming its business model, according to Xiaowei Xu, who noted that "The profit of the Chinese port does not rely on container business."

He added, "Dalian Port, which is gaining momentum in petrochemical and bulk cargo business, will continue to strengthen its own advantageous industrial layout in the future, gradually transform, and promote the merger with Yingkou Port."

Antonis Karamalegkos

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