Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/02/2013 -- This year is set to be a trying one for Australia's shipping sector. Global economic headwinds that proved hard to traverse in 2012 are set to continue in 2013, reflected in our poor forecasts for the country's main ports both this year and over the new forecast period to 2017. The Port of Brisbane will lead the way in terms of tonnage and container throughput annual growth this year (3.92% and 3.50% respectively), and will once again take the crown for overall tonnage - 38.67mn tonnes compared with the port of Melbourne's 34.35mn and Sydney's 31.43mn tonnes.
The impact of China's economic and political decisions on its main trade partners cannot be underestimated. China's stockpiling of iron ore remains a threat to the dry bulk shipping sector and in this respect, Australia's shipping sector is no different. The sudden uptick in demand when iron ore price falls and traders buy, thereby requiring ships for transport, places pressure on ports and has been the cause of congestion.
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This issue will continue even though there has been considerable investment being made into upgrading and expanding the world's major iron ore export facilities in Australia and Brazil. Any uptick in demand for a commodity places pressure on both the export and import ports in the supply chain. We have previously witnessed this in the coal supply chain, with vessels queuing outside Australia's Newcastle coal port.
Headline Industry Data
- 2013 Port of Melbourne tonnage throughput forecast to grow 3.00%.
- 2013 Port of Melbourne container throughput forecast to rise 2.21%.
- 2013 Port of Sydney tonnage throughput forecast to increase 0.98%.
- 2013 Port of Sydney container throughput forecast to increase 0.32%.
- 2013 total trade forecast to grow by 2.26%.
Key Industry Trends
BHP Continues To Cut Infrastructure Spending
Signs of an adverse slowdown in mining investment within Australia are growing, with mining giant BHP Billiton announcing a new wave of project deferrals and cancellations in September 2012. This reinforces our bearish near-term outlook for the Australian railway and port infrastructure sectors. BHP has cut works worth around AUD80mn (US$83.4mn) from one contract for its Inner Harbour Project in the Port Hedland.
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