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DP World's second-quarter shipping volumes rise 17% as global trade rebounds

Port operator handled 19.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units across its container terminals in the second quarter of 2021

DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, reported a 17.1 per cent increase in second-quarter container shipping volumes and expects an "improved" full-year performance as the near-term trading environment remains positive.

The port operator handled 19.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, across its global portfolio of container terminals in the second quarter of 2021, up from 16.7m TEUs in the same quarter a year ago, it said on Wednesday.

All regions where it operates recorded growth during the period, led by India and the Asia-Pacific region.

"Growth continued to be broad based, with all our regions delivering a robust performance, with India being exceptionally strong," said group chairman and chief executive Sultan bin Sulayem.

"The strong start to 2021 leaves us well-placed to deliver an improved full-year performance and we remain focused on delivering our 2022 targets."

Global trade is expected to improve after a rebound brought about by pent-up demand for consumer durables from advanced economies, such as cars, and the resumption of supply chains in emerging markets.

While the International Monetary Fund issued a warning on Tuesday that vaccine inequality could affect the global economic recovery, it raised its trade growth estimate to 9.7 per cent this year and 7 per cent in 2022, after a contraction of 8.3 per cent in 2020.

At a consolidated level, DP World terminals handled 11.4m TEUs in the second quarter, a growth of 18.2 per cent on a reported basis and up 17.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis, it said.

DP World, which operates terminals from Peru to Australia, said its flagship Jebel Ali port in the UAE handled 3.4 million TEUs in the second quarter, up 4.2 per cent from the same period last year.

Ports in the Asia-Pacific region and India recorded 21.2 per cent growth in the second quarter, compared with the same period in 2020, the highest among all the regions where DP World operates.

The Americas and Australia followed with 18.2 per cent growth, while Europe, the Middle East and Africa expanded by 13.8 per cent.

During the first half of 2021, DP World handled 38.6 million TEUs, with gross container volumes increasing by 13.9 per cent, compared with the same period last year, on a reported basis and 13.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The Dubai-based company said it remains positive about the near-term outlook but is concerned that uncertainty linked to the Covid-19 pandemic may disrupt a recovery in the global economy.

The IMF maintained its global economic forecast at 6 per cent but downgraded its growth outlook for emerging markets and developing economies due to the uneven access to vaccines and the emergence of Covid-19 variants that are hindering the shape of recovery.

"Looking ahead, the near-term outlook remains positive, but we do expect growth rates to moderate in the second half of 2021," Mr bin Sulayem said.

"Furthermore, we remain mindful that the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainty could, once again, disrupt the global economic recovery."

The port operator remains focused on growing profitability while managing its growth capital expenditure, he said.

Earlier this month, DP World said it plans to buy South Africa's Imperial Logistics for $890m, further strengthening its footprint on the world's second-largest continent.

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