Alphaliner has revised downwards its growth outlook for global container throughput to 2.5 per cent this year, down from its earlier forecast of 3.5 per cent growth.
The revised forecast comes after the International Monetary Fund's July update of its World Economic Outlook downgraded global gross domestic product growth from 3.3 per cent to 3.2 per cent, with a related decrease in trade volume growth from 3.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent, reported London's Lloyd's List.
Paris-based container research house Alphaliner said container throughput remained resilient in the second quarter of 2019, with global ports registering volume growth of 2.8 per cent between April and June. The slowdown has been noted since the 2008 global financial crisis.
'The preliminary growth rate was slightly above the first quarter's rate of 2.7 per cent, as the ongoing Sino-US trade war failed to bring down overall container volumes,' said Alphaliner.
Volumes among the top 100 ports increased an average 4.8 per cent in 2018, down six per cent year on year. In the second quarter, Chinese ports saw volume growth slow to 3.5 per cent compared with 4.2 per cent in the first quarter, Alphaliner pointed out. North American volumes growth also fell to 2.9 per cent in the second quarter, down from 4.7 per cent growth in the previous quarter.
Alphaliner also warned that the 'TEU multiplier', the factor by which container volumes rise more than GDP growth, was continuing to slide. Historically, shipping lines could rely on a TEU multiplier of 3.4 during the 1990s and 2.6 in the early years of the turn of the millennium. However, since the financial crisis of 2008, the TEU multiplier has dropped to 1.4, and could slip to parity this year.
'The escalating trade tensions will have a negative impact on container volumes, with the TEU-to-GDP growth multiplier expected to fall to less than one in 2019,' Alphaliner said.