Regarding demand, BIMCO expects a softening of the global container port demand growth rate, down from 4.7% in 2018 to just over 4% in 2019. Nevertheless, the projection for 2019 is very uncertain because of the US-China tariff wars, Brexit and other factors.
As for capacity, a continued caution by investors and operators is expected regarding investment in new capacity. This is because returns are not what they used to be. Specifically, greenfield expansion projects will be the area hardest hit, but a global capacity addition of over 25 million teu can be expected in 2019.
As far as ships are concerned, the good news is that there will be no significant increase in maximum container ship size. Nonetheless, cascading will still be very much at work across all trade routes, with each port experiencing pressure on whichever berths are able to handle the biggest ships.
About IT, digitalization offers opportunities, which will continue to be explored by both terminal operators and port authorities. However, the big challenge still remains to focus on what will really works and has the best potential.
On the supply chain side, terminal operators and port authorities will continue to attempt to enhance their activities into the wider supply chain, diversify sources of revenue and get closer to cargo owners. This will not be easy as there is competition, with heavyweight liner shipping companies aiming to do the same thing.
Lastly, regarding profit, despite all these challenges, the global container terminal industry will remain a very solid, profitable business. The 2019 industry throughput of over 800 million teu could generate EBITDA in excess of US$25 billion, BIMCO concludes.