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Singapore port notches year's first rise in box throughput

Industry veteran says containerised cargo flows are normalising a year after 2 shipping alliances took effect

Container throughput had fallen year on year from January to April this year, though the magnitude of the fall has been narrowing.


TOTAL container throughput in the Port of Singapore rose in May compared to May a year ago, in the first year-on-year rise since the start of this year.

Preliminary estimates released by the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore show that the port handled more than 2.665 million 20 foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerised cargo last month, up from 2.622 million TEU in May 2015.

The container throughput for the month was also higher than that for April, at 2.528 million TEU.

The increase in container throughput could signify containerised cargo flows normalising after the first full year since two new shipping alliance networks came into effect, said a seasoned industry observer.

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Andy Lane, partner of CTI Consultancy, said regional ports were still experiencing changes in cargo flows in the first quarter of 2016, brought on by the first year of implementation of the shipping alliances, 2M and Ocean 3 (O3).

2M is the alliance between Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC); O3 comprises CMA CGM, China Shipping Container Lines and United Arab Shipping Co. These two shipping alliances account for the bulk of shipments along Trans-Pacific, Asia-Europe and major trading routes.

Mr Lane said that to some extent, volume switches took place among Singapore and its two neighbouring Malaysian ports, as a side effect of the alliances being put in force. (The two ports are Klang and Tanjong Pelepas.)

But, he said, ahead of the release of Singapore's port data for May, that these "should normalise by now"; there might even be some "some slight but modest" gains in container throughput for the second quarter of the year, he added.

Total cargo throughput at the Singapore port also recorded a year-on-year rise in May, from 48.534 million tonnes in May 2015 to 52.257 million tonnes for last month.

Aside from this year-on-year rise, the figure was also higher than April's 51.3 million tonnes.

From January 2016 through April 2016, container throughput fell, but at a decreasing rate. January's throughput was 293,100 TEUs lower year-on-year; April's decline was smaller, at 105,000 TEU.

The rise in total cargo throughput in May encompassed also month-on-month increases in oil and non-oil bulk to 20.303 million tonnes and 1.332 million tonnes respectively.

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