SANTIAGO, Chile (CMC) – The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) says new ports ranking confirms the decline in the region's foreign trade last year and marks a loss in activity not seen since the crisis of 2009.The throughput of containerised cargo in the ports of Latin America and the Caribbean fell 0.9 per cent in 2016, according to data released by ECLAC.

ECLAC said this regional average continues the negative trend of deceleration that has been observed in the last few years and represents the biggest loss since the 2009 crisis.

The United Nations body unveiled a new edition of its ranking of container port throughput, published in its “Maritime and Logistics Profile,” which confirms two trends seen in the region in recent years: an overall steepening of the deceleration of foreign trade in container terminals and a high degree of heterogeneity in this activity's growth rates within the region.

ECLAC said the deceleration in the regional average of port throughput began several years ago: six per cent in 2012, 1.3 per cent in 2013, 2.4 per cent in 2014 and 2.5 per cent in 2015.

ECLAC said the deterioration in 2016 was mainly determined by a decline in activity in five countries, namely Brazil (-4.4 per cent), Panama (-9.1 per cent), Colombia (-3.6 per cent), Argentina (-6.1 per cent) and the Bahamas (-14.3 per cent).

It said these drops were mitigated by the increases seen in some countries of the region, which contributed to raising the total volume: Mexico (3.2 per cent rise), Chile (4.8 per cent), Peru (8.4 per cent), Ecuador (4.5 per cent), the Dominican Republic (8.3 per cent), Guatemala (8.8 per cent), Costa Rica (7.3 per cent) and Uruguay (9.5 per cent).

ECLAC said the total volume of activity in 2016 reached about 47.5 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit).

TEU is the standard unit of measurement, equivalent to a container of a length of 20 feet, or 6.25 meters, meaning it is a standard-sized metallic box that can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks, ECLAC said.

It said the first 40 ports in the ranking represent nearly 90 per cent of operations with this type of cargo in the region. The following 100 ports move the remaining 10 per cent (4.4 million TEU).

“The data compiled by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) points to great heterogeneity in the performance of port throughput, both at a sub-regional level and by country,” the statement said.

ECLAC said the sharpest declines in volume of port activity were recorded by the terminals of Buenos Aires in Argentina (-5.7 per cent), Kingston in Jamaica (-5.2 per cent), Freeport in the Bahamas (-14.3 per cent), Santos in Brazil (-6.9 per cent), Cartagena in Colombia (-4.0 per cent), and Colón (-8.9 per cent) and Balboa (-9.2 per cent) in Panama.

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