RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index

RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index: Increasing container handlings in China lead stimulate international container trade

Press release from 28.09.2021 (the current press release can always be found here)

The current flash forecast for the Container Throughput Index of RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute for Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) indicates a seasonally adjusted increase of 3.2 points to 126.6 points in August. The increase is mostly triggered by Chinese ports while container traffic decreased in European ports.

The essence in a nutshell:

  • The seasonally adjusted Container Throughput Index of RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the Institute for Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) increased significantly from 123.4 points (revised) in July to 126.6 points in August.
  • Container throughput grew strongly in Chinese ports. The Index jumped from 126.4 to 131.6 (see download “Data excluding Chinese ports” below). The re-opening of a formerly closed port has only partly contributed to this jump.
  • The North Range Index, an indicator of economic development in the northern euro area and Germany, decreased in August from 114.8 (revised) to 114.2 points. This development most likely reflects the logistical disturbances that have been dampening world trade since quite some time now.
  • The RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index for September 2021 will be published on 29 October 2021.

Commenting on the development of the Container Throughput Index, RWI’s head of economic research, Torsten Schmidt says, “It appears that the problems in Chinese ports are slowly being solved. However, the setback in Europe shows that container traffic is not yet flowing smoothly again.”

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About the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index:

The index includes data on container throughput in 91 international ports continuously collected by the ISL as part of its market observation. They account for around 60 percent of global container traffic. Since international trade is mainly handled by sea, reliable conclusions can be drawn from container port throughput on world trade. As many ports already report on their activities two weeks after the end of a month, the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable early indicator of the development of international manufactures trade and thus also of global economic activity.

Data series for individual ports are available in the ISL Monthly Container Port Monitor.
For more background information on the RWI/ISL Container Handling Index, please visit 
www.rwi-essen.de/containerindex.

Contact

Prof. Dr. Torsten Schmidt

RWI
Phone: +49 201 8149-287

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 91 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

RWI Materialien

2019

Döhrn, R. (2019), Schnellschätzung des RWI/ISLContainerumschlag-Index: Evaluierung und Weiterentwicklung. RWI Materialien 129. download

Articles in other journals

2019

Döhrn, R. (2019), Sieben Jahre RWI/ISL-Containerumschlag-Index – ein Erfahrungsbericht. Wirtschaftsdienst 99 (3): 224-226. download

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): 352-354. download

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

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