Press Office

RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index: Problems in China dampen international container traffic

Press release from 26 August 2021

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 1.6 points to 125.1 points. The increase would have been even higher, had it not been for the ship handling delays in Chinese ports. These delays will also be felt soon in Europe.

Grafik Entwicklung RWI/ISL-Containerumschlag-Index

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) rose from 123.5 points (revised) in June to 125.1 points in July.
  • In Chinese ports, ship-handling delays caused a decrease of the Index from 130.6 to 125.8.
  • The North Range Index, which gives an indication of economic developments in the northern euro area and Germany, had a significant share of the container throughput increase. Compared to June, it increased strongly from 119.7 (revised) to 123.7.
  • The RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index for August 2021 will be published on 28 September 2021.

Commenting on the development of the Container Throughput Index, RWI’s head of economic research, Torsten Schmidt says, “The performance issues in the Chinese ports dampen international container traffic. It will take a few weeks until the consequences will also be felt in Europe. This could aggravate the bottlenecks in some industries”.

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, see


Your contact persons:

Prof. Dr. Torsten Schmidt, Phone: +49 (201) 8149-287, 
Leonard Knollenborg (Communication), Phone: +49 (201) 8149-210, 


Data Container Throughput Index and Northrange Index

Graphic Container Throughput Index in printable resolution


RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index: Northrange

Grafik Entwicklung RWI/ISL-Containerumschlag-Index Nordrange

Graphic in printable resolution

Data special evaluation excluiding Chinese ports

Pressemitteilung im pdf-Format