Press Office

World trade seems to defy protectionist measures so far

Press release from 25 January 2019

The Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the ISL - Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics largely recovered in December 2018 from its decline in November. It has risen from (revised) 134.0 to 135.3 and is thus only slightly below its previous peak of October 2018. Overall, container throughput is quite robust in view of the growing number of reports on negative effects of the many protectionist measures taken in the past year. However, the foreign trade in automobiles – recently declining – is not covered by the index as these are not transported in containers.

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. Together, the 88 ports covered in the index account for about six out of ten containers handled worldwide. The flash-estimate for December is based on data reported by 41 ports, accounting for close to 70% of the total index volume. Compared to the previous month’s numbers the index was revised up until August because of late registrations of Japanese ports.

The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for January 2019 will be released on 26 February 2019.

Index data

Graphic in printable resolution (German)