BMI maintains its cautious outlook for the Chinese port and shipping sector, highlighting that indicators continue to align to back our view of a slowdown in China''s economic growth. These fears have been heightened by the negative growth posted by the major export bellwether. Our outlook has seen some support in the declining container volumes at the Port of Shanghai in February 2012.
Our view that Beijing will struggle to continue to report 8%-plus real GDP growth, with BMI forecasting the country''s economy to expand by 7.5% in 2012, received further backing with throughput results for the nation''s major box ports in January all posting negative growth. The Port of Shanghai, the largest container port in China and the world, posted a year-on-year (y-o-y) decline in throughput of 3% in February 2012. Month-on-month, the decline was 28%. These results tie in with our view that a noticeable slowdown in Chinese economic growth is set to come into effect during our forecast period.
Our core view on Chinese growth is that we are past the boom phase and we are entering a period of much weaker expansion, with headline real GDP growth set to fall to 7.5% by 2013. The slowdown in the construction sector will result in less demand for imports of goods such as iron ore and coal, while ports and shipping lines alike are feeling the effects of a gradual contraction in China''s overseas trade volumes over our mid-term forecast period. Although this moderation in growth is expected to be soft, concerns over the possibility of a sharper contraction in Chinese bilateral trade adds a degree of downside risk to our projections.
Headline Industry Data
- 2012 Port of Shanghai tonnage throughput forecast to grow 2.16%. Over the mid-term we project average annual growth of 4.87%.
- 2012 Port of Shenzen container throughput forecast to grow 0.19%. Over our forecast period we project average annual growth of 1.83%.
- 2012 trade growth forecast at 2.52%, a considerable slowdown from 2011''s estimated 9.27%.
Key Industry Trends
COSCO May Seek Cash From Government As Bleak Demand Outlook Gives Cause For Concern With dry bulk rates remaining depressed and concerns growing about a possible fall-off in Chinese demand for imports of coal and iron ore, BMI''s view on the dry bulk sector remains bearish.
Top Two Ports Neck And Neck On First Quarter Throughput BMI believes that the Port of Shanghai could struggle to maintain its position as the world''s number one container port in the coming years, as the Chinese economy totters on the edge of a hard landing with lower-than expected Q112 GDP growth figures, while conversely the Port of Singapore, the former title holder, enjoys strong growth.
Ningbo Makes Positive Start To 2012, Turns Attention To Driving Up Domestic Throughput China''s Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan has made a strong start to 2012, and was one of the few major Chinese box ports to remain in positive throughput territory in January 2012. Growth at the facility is set to slow in 2012 in line with our projections for a global slowing in trade. However, the port''s initiatives to increase demand do offer upside to our current predictions.
Key Risks To Outlook
The risks presented to our China shipping forecasts are primarily to the downside, with a sharper-thanexpected fall in the country''s already declining international trade volumes representing the most immediate threat. In particular, we believe monetary tightening could cause the country''s need for materials such as iron ore to ease, leading to a decrease in the import of such commodities. Meanwhile the risk of a double-dip recession in the US would hit demand from China''s biggest export market.