CHINA> Regional
Yangtze river ports see signs of recovery in cargo
Updated: 2009-02-21 10:38

BEIJING -- Ports along the Yangtze River reported the first monthly increase in cargo in January, after six months' downward performance, a good sign that China's economic stimulus plan's commitment to increasing infrastructure projects has shown positive impact.

However, despite the recent growth, insiders predict businesses on the river will not see a full recovery until the year's second half.

Latest official figures stated that the major ports in the area reported cargo throughput of 80 million tons in January, representing a 5.7 percent year-on-year growth, Saturday's "China Daily" reports.

The ports along the Yangtze River include the port of Chongqing, Shanghai Yangshan port, and ports from the provinces of Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, and Jiangsu.

Increasingly growing investment injected into the construction of railways, roads, bridges and metros is driving demand for iron ore and coal, two major commodities shipped via the ports along the Yangtze River.

The ports posted strong growth in cargo - an average 14 percent- in the first eight months of last year, but was hurt by the financial crisis. In September there was zero growth and in the last three months it fell 17, 21 and 30 percent respectively.

Container throughput in the ports grew to 550,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in January, up by 19.6 percent year-on-year, compared with 8 percent and 14 percent growth in November and December respectively.

Both cargo and container growth rates are on a par with the same period last year when China's overall economic growth was much stronger.

For all ports in China, cargo throughput reached 449.96 million tons in January, up by 5.7 percent year-on-year, and container throughput amounted to 8.99 million TEUs, up by 13.3 percent, according to the Ministry of Transport.

The growth in cargo throughput for all Chinese ports was merely0.5 percent last December, the lowest in a decade.

Despite the positive growth in January, prospects ahead for the ports along the Yangtze River are less optimistic. "There will be a few more difficult months before the bad time is over, but we are confident that business will improve in the second half of 2009 and annual cargo throughput growth will be around 9 percent," said Huang Qiang, party secretary of Yangtze River Administration.