Phnom Penh Autonomous Port saw freight volumes increase last month, showing good Q3 results as Sihanoukville suffers
FREIGHT exports through the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port continued to increase in September after gains in both July and August followed year-on-year losses in the first six months of 2009.
Official figures obtained by the Post Monday show the port handled 4,484 outbound 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) in September, up 22.7 percent on the same month last year, when 3,654 TEUs were handled.
The increase follows a 22.65 percent rise in outbound cargo in August, which saw 5,063 TEUs shipped down the Mekong, compared with just 4,128 TEUs a year earlier. July exports through the port were up 0.84 percent year-on-year to 4,191 TEUs.
Falling exports in the first six months of the year mean outbound throughput volumes still fell 11 percent year-on-year across the first nine months of 2009 from 36,079 TEUs to 32,087 TEUs.
Port deputy director Eang Veng Sun said exports began to recover following the launch of the Cai Mep deepwater port in southern Vietnam’s Ba Ria Vung Tau province.
“Our shipment activity has increased a lot after the Vietnamese deepwater port Cai Mep launched its official operation in June this year,” he said.
Shipping goods down the Mekong River from Phnom Penh and then out through the port to the United States – a key export market for Cambodia – was much faster than through Sihanoukville International Port on Cambodia’s south coast, he said.
Because Sihanoukville lacks a deepwater port, goods have to be transferred to Singapore, Taiwan or Hong Kong in smaller vessels before being loaded into a larger container ship for the journey across the Pacific.
Eang Veng Sun said the port had struggled in the first six months of the year as the global economic crisis began to devastate the country’s export sector.
Shipments of garments, by far the country’s main merchandise export, fell 18 percent in the first half of the year, according to government figures.
“Shipments began dropping at the beginning of the year, but it is not very serious as shipment activity at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port is now recovering,” Eang Veng Sun said.
Hin Theany, a division general manager at Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), said the firm shipped 481 TEUs of goods from the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port to Vietnam Cai Mep Port and 460 TEUs in August.
She said the shipments through Phnom Penh Autonomous Port accounted for 65 percent of the firm’s shipments, with the remainder going through Sihanoukville International Port.
“Our shipments through the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port increased during August and September because of an increase in purchase orders of sweatshirts from abroad for winter,” she said.
Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which is still Cambodia’s largest shipping facility, said last month that gross tonnage coming through the port fell by 10.5 percent over the first eight months of the year, while the number of containers handled fell by 23 percent.