China's ports will remain number one
Chinese ports will remain the busiest in the world this year, although sluggish economic recovery in the United States and the European Union (EU) will dent their container volume growth, according to an outlook report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The report, released on Friday by the Center for Forecasting Sciences at the academy, also suggested global container volumes will continue to rise this year, but the growth rate will be smaller than in 2010.
Containers are the basic element of the global trading system.
The average growth at the world's top 20 ports will remain at between 8.5 percent and 10.3 percent year-on-year, down from an increase of 15.2 percent in 2010, the report said.
"China has served as a major driver of rapid growth in the global shipping industry," said Wang Shouyang, a professor at the academy. "Its robust economic and trade growth has prompted increases in port business in trading-partner countries."
According to the report, half of the increase in business at Antwerp port in Belgium was driven by demand from the Chinese market, and no less than 30 percent of the containers in Hamburg port were transferred to or from China.
As the developing economies emerge as the new engine for the global economy, container volumes at their ports are expected to register rapid growth.
Meanwhile, the lackluster economic performance in the developed countries will hamper the growth of trade, the report said.
Lacking an internal engine, economic growth in the US and the EU may remain insipid, said Zhang Monan, an economist at the Economic Forecast Department of the State Information Center.
With a jobless rate as high as 9.1 percent in June and debt-supported fiscal and monetary policies coming to an end, the US needs additional policies to boost its economy, Zhang said.
The US government has already reached its $14.3 trillion legal debt limit and has urged that the limit should be raised by Aug 2.
President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have warned that if Congress failed to do so, it could lead to default on the nation's debt obligations, causing financial market turbulence and other serious consequences.
In the meantime, economic recovery in the EU may be affected by the debt concerns and ensuing tightening policies, Zhang added.
"These factors are likely to hamper economic growth in the US and EU in the latter half of this year," she said.
"Given the current global economic climate, it is safe to predict a slowdown in the growth of container volumes worldwide," she added.
China's Dalian port is expected to become the 20th largest in the world this year, and 10 of the top 20 container ports would be in China, the report said. The rest remained largely unchanged.
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