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Port Throughput Indices

The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 235 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes. The base point for the indices is January 2012 = 100.

Drewry Port Throughput Index
Drewry Port Throughput Index

Drewry’s latest assessment - May 2021

  • In March 2021, the Global Container Port Throughput index climbed to its highest-ever level of 140.8, showing a gain of close to 16% over February 2021 and more than 12% higher than the 125.4 points recorded in March 2020. When making comparisons to 2020 performance it is important to remember that the COVID-19 impact on port activity levels started in February 2020 in China, but quickly spread to other markets – first as the initial supply-side shock caused by Chinese lockdowns saw import volumes plummet, but quickly followed reduction in demand as major consumption economies imposed various degrees of lockdown.
  • The Chinese index reached 147 points in March 2021, representing 18% monthly and 12% annual growth. The top five Chinese ports (Guangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shanghai and Shenzhen), which together handle close to 55% of China’s total throughput, reported 15.2% average annual growth on the back of strong recovery in foreign (especially Transpacific) trade volumes.
  • The index for Asia (ex-China) reached its highest-ever level of 137 points in March 2021, registering 11.3% monthly and 4.4% annual growth, as the economic recovery from COVID-19 gains pace. Supply chain disruption continues to impact the region, with major hubs including Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas and Busan all reporting highest-ever monthly throughput in March as they steadily work through cargo backlogs.
  • The Middle East and South Asia region index reported close to 7% monthly and 14% annual growth in March 2021. The index has crossed the 140 points mark, with South Asia largely driving the growth. The two largest Indian ports, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mundra, registered close to 30% and 60% year-on-year growth respectively as a result of handling higher export and transhipment cargo.
  • North America is the stand-out performance in March 2021, reporting 42% annual and 20% monthly growth, which enabled the index to reach an all-time-high of 167 points. Chinese New Year provided none of its usual respite, and congestion remains an on-going issue at both Los Angeles (113% increase compared to March 2020) and Long Beach (62% increase), with terminals, rail operators and truckers all struggling to increase capacity to handle these record volumes.
  • The European Port Throughput index in March 2021 also improved by 5.7% monthly and 4.8% annually, albeit it should be noted that the COVID-19 disruption in the European market was only evident from mid-March. The economic recovery has also been more muted, with third-wave outbreaks resulting in lockdowns and other restrictions in 1Q21 which has put a brake on economic growth.
  • The Latin American index rose to 128.8 points after witnessing a 7.3% monthly and 15.6% annual growth in March 2021. Santos, the largest gateway port in the region, reported record annual growth in 1Q21, and Panama’s transhipment hubs have also seen volumes rise.
  • Oceania’s index also recovered to 141.1 points in March 2021 with 9.3% monthly and 22.7% annual growth. Africa was the only region showing negative growth on a monthly basis. However, the decline was of only half a percent with the index at 106.3 points in March 2021. We advise caution when considering the Africa index as it is based on a small sample size.
* Based on a relatively small sample, and should be viewed with caution
# All index figures for March 2021 are preliminary, subject to change next month

March 2021 Sector Update

Related Research: Port and Terminal Sector

For access to port traffic data behind these Port Throughput Indices subscribe to Drewry’s Ports and Terminals Insight. Published quarterly, it provides comprehensive analysis of the key trends and issues impacting the ports and terminals sector. It looks behind the data, issues and trends to answer both the ’cause’ and ’effect’ questions that matter most to senior industry stakeholders.


Recent thought leadership topics covered include:

  • Southeast Asian port readiness for COVID-19-driven supply chain diversification

  • Fragmented port capacity ‒ a major operational issue

  • How can terminal operators navigate through the perfect storm

  • Varying network strategies of the mega-alliances
  • The rise of Chinese international port investments

  • Is intensity of container terminal asset usage improving


Market sectors covered


Countries with subscribing Maritime Research clients.


Leading industry publications feature content from our Maritime Research reports each month (2020 monthly average)


New reports and title updates released in the 12 months before December 2020

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