By Ricardo J. Sánchez & Eliana P. Barleta
The throughput of containerized cargo in Latin American and Caribbean ports remained static in 2019, registering an increase of only 0.04% compared to the previous year, according to the Port Report launched today by ECLAC. The sample covers 36 countries and territories, with a total of 125 ports and port areas in the region.
The total volume transferred in 2019 exceeded 54.2 million TEU, representing 6.5% of the total global throughput,
The total volume transferred in 2019 exceeded 54.2 million TEU, representing 6.5% of the total global throughput, showing a slight decrease in variation from the previous year (when it reached 7.1% of global throughput). The ten countries with the greatest contribution to the total volume of cargo operated, represented 81.0% of the regional throughput. These are (ordered from highest to lowest according to the amount of TEU): Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Argentina and Jamaica.
According to data collected by the Infrastructure Services Unit of ECLAC, in 2019, the East Coast of South America (ECSA) registered a decrease in the activity of ports and port areas of -0.8%, measured by the volume operated. The West Coast of South America (WCSA) also presented a fall in its operations of -3.1% in 2019. The Caribbean (which includes Colombia’s Caribbean coast, but not Venezuela’s) marked a 2.3% growth in total container throughput, while Central America had a drop of -7.0%. The Mexico Gulf area grew by 3.0% compared to 2018, and Mexico Pacific by 1.0%. Panama’s Pacific coast grew by 15.0%, while its Caribbean coast registered an increase of 1.0%.
In the recent months the world has witnessed and continues to witness a dramatic change in daily life, which has also had a major impact on business, trade and shipping. UN-ECLAC’s annual port report includes an analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on port performance through the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, for selected ports in Latin America and the Caribbean and other regions of the world. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on port performance in 2020 mean that all forecasts of future stability and growth must be reviewed. From a projected 3.6% growth in container trade worldwide in the last quarter of 2019, the latest estimate released in July points to a drop of -7.2%. In total, of the ports selected in ECLAC’s analysis, during the period from January to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, in Central America, WCSA and Mexico, on average, had low productivity. WCSA presented the lowest results, with a drop of -15.0% in productivity during the period from January to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Mexico Gulf and Mexico Pacific presented a similar fall, of -14.1% and -14.0% respectively. The average decline for selected Central American ports was -7.0% during the period January to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Selected Caribbean ports will show an average drop of -4.8% during January-June 2020 compared to January-June 2019. Panama (Caribbean coast) and Panama (Pacific coast) had an increase in their activity of 12.7% and 16.1%, respectively, during the first semester of 2020 compared to 2019, as well as ECSA, which presented an increase of 3.7% in its port throughput during January to May 2020 compared to January to May 2019.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN (SELECTED PORTS): CONTAINER THROUGHPUT, JANUARY TO JUNE 2020 COMPARED TO SAME PERIOD IN 2019 (in percentage)
Note: only a few container ports had an increase in their activity