RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index: World trade continues to grow

(PresseBox) (Bremen, ) The Container Throughput Index of the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) has improved notably in January to a new record high of 120.7 points. It indicates the stability of the world trade upswing. However, the December value had to be revised by 2.4 points down to 117.5.

We already indicated last month that a major revision of the December value is possible because the flash forecast was based on a particularly small sample of ports. The amplitude of the revision was mostly due to some unexpectedly low values in some Chinese ports.

In January, the Chinese ports are reporting significant increases. At this time of the year, the Chinese data is to be interpreted carefully due to the Chinese New Year holidays. This also holds for the February values. Nevertheless, the January flash forecast is presumably quite robust as it is based on no less than 41 ports representing almost 70 per cent of the container handling covered by the Index.

With its first publication in 2014 - just as in early 2013 - the sample of ports was updated. The port of Colombo (Sri Lanka) dropped out of the sample as it stopped reporting monthly data. On the other hand, there are three new entries: the port of Casablanca (Morocco) and the ports of Ambarli and Mersin (Turkey). This adjustment induced some minor revisions back to 2007 without impacting on the underlying development.

The Index is based on data of 75 world container ports covering approximately 60% of worldwide container handling. The ports are continuously monitored by the ISL as part of their market analysis. Because large parts of international merchandise trade are transported by ship, the development of port handling is a good indicator for world trade. As many ports release information about their activities only two weeks after the end of the respective month, the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable early indicator for the development of international merchandise trade and hence for the activity of the global economy.

The RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index for February 2014 will be published on March 24th.


Institut für Seeverkehrswirtschaft und Logistik (ISL)
Universitätsallee 11-13
D-28359 Bremen
Dr. Sönke Maatsch
Maritime Wirtschaft und Verkehr


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