Russia: moderate growth in the port industry for 2022
27 Jan 2022 09:40 Economy
Most ports increased their throughput last year, although facing many problems with availability of empty equipment and the lack of space on seagoing vessels.
The total cargo throughput at Russian seaports amounted to 835.21 million tonnes from January to December 2021. Compared to the previous year 2020, that is an increase of 1.7 per cent. Compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 figures, the throughput decreased by 0.6 per cent (from 840.3 million tonnes). The container throughput at Russian seaports amounted to 5.63 million TEUs in 2021, exceeding the 2020 figure by 6.2 per cent (5.3 million TEUs).
The Baltic Sea Basin ports handled 252.84 million tonnes, an increase of 4.7 per cent. Dry cargo had an increase of 4.8 per cent and liquid cargo a plus of 4.6 per cent and are almost on a par. The container throughput in the Baltic Sea Basin ports amounted to 2.5 million TEU, corresponding to an increase of 3.2 per cent compared to 2020.
The freight and container throughput at the ports of the Far East region increased. This is due to increased demand for goods transport through the ports with onward transport by rail. This is equally valid for onward transport towards central part of Russia and Europe. This resulted in an 0.6 per cent increase and 224.31 million tonnes handled by the Far East Basin ports. Container handling in the Far East ports even grew by 10.9 per cent to 2.12 million TEU.
The land freight traffic in transit from China to Europe via Russia and Kazakhstan and back doubled their figures. There is also a tendency to transport Russian export products by rail to China and other Southeast Asian countries.
A new trend is that large ocean carriers have become more active in entering the freight forwarding market again. They are actively trying to squeeze out freight forwarders and to sign contracts directly with cargo owners, including by refusing to provide freight rates and tariffs to forwarders.
Together with the existing empty equipment issues, the demand for the purchase of container equipment has increased. All rail operators in the Russian Federation announced an increase in the fleet in 2021 and extensive plans for 2022.
The in-house warehouse market for online retail and local delivery market is actively developing. There is already a shortage of labour and warehouse space. In 2021, many online shops opened new distribution centres. Although there is a general decline in the population’s purchasing power and rising inflation. The Russian statistical office “Rosstat” announced that the inflation rate at the end of 2021 was 8.39 per cent – the highest since 2015.
Many industries have been affected by the problems and interruptions of the supply of components for assembly and production. Therefore, questions on the need to bring back production of spare parts back to assembly sites and localise production arose. This significantly affected the production of cars in Russia.
The 2022 forecasts depend on the global development of the pandemic. However, there is hope that the production and transport chains will normalize in the second half of the year and borders will open to attract foreign labour. Concurrently, it is expected that the government and Central Bank of the Russian Federation will make great efforts to reduce inflation. Therefore, moderate growth between two and five per cent in the port industry is expected. At the same time, rail transport of containers in transit will probably continue to grow.