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Dalian port suffers dramatic 42% decline in box volumes

The Chinese Ministry of Transport released full year figures at the end of last week for the country’s 24 largest mainland ports. The most eye-catching figures pertain to the Port of Dalian, which registered the largest annual percentage decline in box throughput for a port in excess of 1m teu in the history of containerisation. Dalian, located in northeast Liaoning province, saw its container throughput decline by 41.7%, sliding 3.7m teu year-on-year to finish on 5.11m teu.

Sources in the region point towards hinterland shifts, weakening GDP, reefer shipments dropping off and volumes shifting to nearby Yingkou as reasons for the spectacular drop in volumes.

Earlier this month Dalian Port announced a decision to change its name to Liaoning Port Company as part of its restructuring process. China Merchants Group took control of Liaoning Port Group in 2019 and started the consolidation of the port assets in the province. As part of the consolidation process, Dalian Port is currently in the process of absorbing another listed port operator, Yingkou Port. Last year, Liaoning Port Group also took over Dandong Port, previously a private port, after the port went bankrupt.

Other notable headlines from the ministry’s 2020 throughput release show Shanghai remains the country’s – and the world’s – largest boxport with 43.5m teu handled last year, up 0.4% year-on-year, while Ningbo-Zhoushan remains the world’s largest overall port, handling 1.172bn tonnes last year, up 4.7%.

In contrast to Dalian, the port of Beibuwan, which has actively been fostering ties with Southeast Asia, stood out as China’s fastest growing boxport. The port, located in Guangxi province, saw container volumes climb 32.2% to finish on 5.05m teu.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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