Vietnam's Ports Set New Records Amidst Container Surge

cai mep
Cai Mep's TCIT Terminal (public domain)

Published Sep 27, 2021 4:15 AM by The Maritime Executive

Despite disruption from lockdown measures over the summer, Vietnam’s seaports have handled in excess of 537 million tons of goods in the first nine months of the year - a three percent year-on-year rise, according to new data released by the Vietnam Maritime Administration.

The country's containerized cargo is mostly handled through major ports in southern Vietnam, and it maintained a double-digit growth rate of 15 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching 18.6 million TEU. Exports were estimated at 6 million TEU, an increase of 13 percent; imports at 6.1 million TEU, up 18 percent; and domestic goods at 6.3 million TEU.

Major seaports were severely affected when the Vietnamese government put the country’s southern region into lockdown in July. Most of the terminals in Ho Chi Minh City reported massive congestion as ships waited for berth space to open up. Nonetheless, the volume of goods that went through Ho Chi Minh City expanded by more than seven percent during the period.

Although container shipping is experiencing upheavals from COVID-19, cargo is moving in larger amounts than ever before. To some observers, the ongoing disruption in the container shipping market may simply be a part of the new normal.

“Part of the current turmoil is quite normal in other shipping sectors in times of capacity shortage - in container shipping we have just been fortunate enough not to have seen it to this degree before,” commented Lars Jensen, founder of container shipping consultancy Vespucci Maritime, in a recent post. “The other shipping sectors in tankers and bulk are much older parts of the shipping industry and have been mature industries for decades. Container shipping in this context is a mere teenager and has only recently entered a more mature phase. It might therefore be possible that going forward we should not be surprised at regularly occurring spikes - just as this is normal in other mature shipping sectors.”