DP World container volumes surge in first half on growth in Europe

Global ports operator reports 6 per cent rise in gross volumes on a like-for-like basis and expects new investments to boost second half throughput

In this Sunday, April 1, 2018 photo, workers secure a container to be lifted onto a cargo ship at the Port of Berbera, run by DP World, which is majority-owned by the Dubai government in the UAE, in Berbera, Somaliland, Somalia. The breakaway northern region of Somaliland declared its independence nearly three decades ago, but despite having its own currency, parliament and military the predominantly Muslim country hasn’t been recognized by any foreign government. President Muse Bihi Abdi is hoping to change that by aligning his country’s interests with energy-rich Gulf Arab states eager to expand their military footprint in the Horn of Africa. (AP Photo/Malak Harb)

Global ports operator DP World reported an increase in first-half container volumes, bolstered by growth in its Europe and Australia terminals, despite geopolitical challenges and trade policy changes creating uncertainty in the market.

Gross container volumes grew 4.8 per cent on a reported basis in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2017 and 6 per cent on a like-for-like basis, DP World said in a statement on Tuesday to Nasdaq Dubai, where its shares are listed. Like-for-like basis does not include new capacity additions.

The ports operator handled 35.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the first half.

"Whilst geopolitical headwinds and recent changes in trade policies continue to pose uncertainty to the container market, first-half volume performance demonstrates that our portfolio is well positioned to deliver growth," said Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World chairman and group chief executive. "We ... still expect to see increased contributions from our new investments in the second half of the year."

DP World, which operates terminals from Peru to Vietnam, handled 18.6 million TEUs at a consolidated level in the first half, an increase of 4 per cent on a reported basis and 4.5 per cent rise on a like-for-like basis. It reported growth across all regions, led by 5.2 per cent increase in container volumes in Australia and the Americas and 5 per cent rise in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In the UAE, where it operates the Jebel Ali port, growth more or less remained flat at a 0.2 per cent increase to 7.7m TEUs year-on-year.


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Second-quarter growth decelerated compared to the same period in 2017 when it was driven by market share gains from new shipping alliances, the company said. Consolidated container volumes grew 1.5 per cent on a reported basis and 2.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the second quarter.

The Dubai-based company and Zhejiang China Commodities City Group last week said they will build a "Traders Market" next to the Dubai Expo 2020 site. The trading platform in the Jebel Ali free zone will include clusters of global companies in sectors ranging from household goods, building materials and food and beverage, to cosmetics, health care, energy and technology.

The announcement came amid a slew of UAE-China deals last week during Chinese president Xi Jinping's visit to Abu Dhabi.

Also last week, US president Donald Trump said he’s “ready to go” with tariffs on $500 billion of Chinese goods, about the value of all US imports from the Asian nation last year, according to a CNBC interview. His comments marked the latest twist in an escalating trade war between the US and countries that he accuses of unfair trade practises.