Singapore container traffic rise 18% on-year in January.
Singapore's ports handled 18 per cent more containers in January compared with the same month last year. According to latest figures by the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) , Singapore's PSA Corp and Jurong Port moved a combined 2.33 million standard containers last month. But analysts said the strong recovery should be seen in the context of a low base during last year's downturn.
After a difficult year in 2009 due to the economic downturn, volumes at Singapore's two container ports rebounded sharply in January. The ports handled 2.33 million twenty foot equivalent units, or TEUs, last month, up from 1.9 million in the same period last year.
The dominant port operator PSA accounted for the lion's share, with volumes rising some 18 per cent to 2.26 million TEUs. The smaller operator, Jurong Port, moved 72,000 TEUs in January up 24 per cent on-year.
Experts said these gains may be due to short-term boosts.
Irvin Seah, economist, Group Research, DBS, said: "Typically, demand increases prior to Christmas period and prior to Chinese New Year period, now that China is Singapore's largest non-oil domestic export market. So therefore, demand would usually increase and export demand would increase before Chinese New Year."
Some analysts think the better numbers will sustain for a few more months, along with consumer demand.
Mr Seah added: "The global economy is recovering very well and hence we could see non-oil domestic export growth continue to rise. So I think for the next few months, you could see some pretty rosy export numbers going forward."
But while the numbers look good on the surface, they should be seen in context. There was a low-base effect from this time last year when the global economy was in the thick of a recession resulting in a sharp contraction in shipping activity.
Also note that the overall January throughput figures are still about 15 per cent down from the peak posted in July 2008, the month that saw Singapore's ports handle 2.7 million TEUs.
So, in a nutshell, there has been a sharp improvement last month, but analysts said there is still a lot of ground to cover before things can be said to have returned to normal.