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Global container throughput 2012-2021

In 2019, global container throughput reached approximately 802 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), an increase of 2.3 percent compared to the previous year.

Container shipping in the context of global seaborne trade

The global economy is becoming more and more interconnected every year, driving the staggering demand for transportation of goods across regions and value chains. Since its development in the mid-20th century, container shipping enabled a standardized method of freight transportation that made it safe and efficient to transport goods overseas. To facilitate this process, industrialized nations developed container ports across export-oriented regions. In 2019, the year-on-year increase in the world container port throughput was approximately 2.3 percent compared to the previous year. In 2018, the biggest container port worldwide based on throughput was Shanghai. In the same year, most of the largest container ports globally were located around Asia.

Impact of COVID-19 on global container shipping

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak inflicted a deep shock on the global economy. As many countries imposed lock-downs, industrial production slowed down, causing major cancellations in supply chain routes and affecting seaborne logistics as well. For instance, as of February 13, 2020, over 151,000 containers had been canceled from the Europe-Asia route. As of March 2, 2020, some 310 container ships were inactive worldwide.

Container throughput worldwide from 2012 to 2019 with a forecast for 2020 and 2021

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Release date

February 2020



Survey time period

2012 to 2019

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Statistics on "Container lines worldwide"

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