RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index

RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index recovers slightly after March decline

The Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the ISL – Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics recovered some of its losses during April, climbing from 130.0 (revised) to 131.0 points.

After the strong revision of the March figure, the development during 2018 so far has been noticeably weaker than initially indicated. The strong revision is attributable to three elements. For one port data was simply recorded wrong. A second port revised its figures downwards on a massive scale and two ports, for which no data had been available back then, performed surprisingly weak.

Whilst all this lead to a major revision of the March figure, the entire first quarter 2018 still marked a new all-time high for the RWI/ISL index.

The index is based on data continuously collected from world container ports by ISL as part of its market monitoring. Because large parts of international merchandise trade are transported by ship, the development of port handling is a good indicator for world trade. As many ports release information about their activities only two weeks after the end of the respective month, the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable early indicator for the development of international merchandise trade and hence for the activity of the global economy. As of 2018, the index is compiled based on data of 88 ports. Together these ports account for ~60% of worldwide container handling. The flash-estimate for April is based on data reported by 46 ports, accounting for 73% of the total index volume.

The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for May 2018 will be released on 20 June 2018.

Contact

Prof. Dr. Roland Döhrn

RWI
Phone: +49 201 8149-262

Dr. Sönke Maatsch

Institut für Seeverkehrswirtschaft und Logistik
Tel.: (0421) 22096-32

Background Information

The Container Throughput Index is a joint project of RWI with the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL). It aims at providing timely information on short term trends in international trade. The index is based on the consideration that containers have become the most important means of transporting processed products. Therefore, the global container throughput and international trade can be expected to be highly correlated.

Container Throughput Index

As a part of their monthly reporting many ports publish data on container throughput expressed in twenty foot equivalent units (TEU). ISL collects these data systematically in its port database. The 88 ports covered in the index account for about 6 out of 10 containers handled worldwide.

Calculating the indicator starts about 20 days after the end of each month. At that time, about 25 ports have already published information about the container throughput in the latest months, which allows for a flash estimate of the indicator. Data still missing are forecasted using statistical time series models. Thereafter, the data are added up and the sum is adjusted for seasonal and calendar effects. Furthermore, the trend-cycle component of the seasonally adjusted figures is estimated to eliminate irregular influences. One month later, as a rule data on 65 ports are available. Then an update of the figures already published is made and a new flash estimate for the latest month is released.

Hitherto, the RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index shows a close correlation with world trade. The index provides valuable input into business cycles analyses, since it is available 3 to 4 months in advance of data on world trade published by international organizations, and one month in advance of the first estimates of world trade volumes.

Related Publications

Articles in other journals

2016

Döhrn, R. (2016), Neuberechnung des RWI-ISL Containerumschlag-Index: Der Einfluss des chinesischen Neujahrsfestes. RWI Konjunkturberichte 67 (4): 49-52. download


2012

Döhrn, R. und S. Maatsch (2012), Der RWI/ISL-Containerumschlag-Index – Ein neuer Frühindikator für den Welthandel. Wirtschaftsdienst 92 (5) download

Döhrn, R. (2012), Containerumschlag-Index als Frühindikator für den Welthandel. Schiff & Hafen 2012 (8): 14–16.

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