RWI / ISL Container Throughput Index: World trade remains at high levels

by David Fleschen

According to the current flash estimate, the container turnover index of the RWI - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) rose to 138.8 in December from 137.7 in December. Due to changes in the reporting population, the figures differ more than usual from the previous publication. However, the basic tendency has not changed. The index is still below the high of October 2019, but above the fourth quarter average. The weakening of world trade expected due to increasing protectionist tendencies has not been discernible so far.

The index includes information on container handling at international ports, which is continuously collected by the ISL as part of its market monitoring. Since international trade is essentially handled by seagoing ship, container handling allows reliable conclusions to be drawn about world trade. Because many ports already report on their activities two weeks after the end of a month, the RWI / ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable leading indicator of the development of international trade in processed goods and, hence, global economic activity.

As in previous years, the publication of the first monthly value for a new year is taken as an opportunity to make methodical adjustments to the index. The ports of Tangier (Morocco), Buenaventuro (Colombia), Kingston (Jamaica), Busan, Inchon, Kwangyang (all South Korea) and Aden (Yemen) are no longer represented in the index because of missing data deliveries. New in the index are Manila (Philippines) and Chennai (India). This reduces the reporting population to 83 ports, accounting for around 60 percent of global container throughput. At the same time, the update procedure for estimating missing data was improved on this occasion. The change in the reporting population implies a slightly greater increase in 2018, which has been characterized by a significant proportion of estimated values.

The flash estimate for January is based on data from 41 ports, which account for well over 70% of the index shown in the index. The RWI / ISL Container Throughput Index for February 2019 will be published on March 26, 2019.

Source: RWI, photo: fotolia

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