Press Office

RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index drops after all-time high recorded in March

Press release from 23 May 2017

The Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) declined by 1.4 points during April 2017. The noticeable decline most likely reflects a correction after the extraordinarily strong increase of handling volumes recorded during March. Currently, the flash estimate for April stands at 124.3 points. The March estimate for the seasonally adjusted RWI/ISL index has been revised down by 0.3 points to 125.7 points. This revision is purely attributable to mathematical reasons. The non-seasonally adjusted index, which represents the effective volumes of containers handled in the ports, actually needed to be revised upwards by 0.4 points. All in all, both indices have been significantly higher in April 2017 than they have been at the start of the year 2017.

Container Throughput Index
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.

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 82 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.

The flash-estimate for April is based on data reported by 43 ports, accounting for ~ 80% of the total index volume.

The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for May 2017 will be released on June 22nd.



Prof. Dr. Roland Döhrn, Tel.: (0201) 8149-262,
Sabine Weiler (Press Office), Tel.: (0201) 8149-213,

Index Data