COSCO Shipping Holdings Co, the container shipping and terminal operation unit of China COSCO Shipping Corp, has been ranked first in terms of container handling during the third quarter of this year, outshining Denmark's Maersk Line, according to global shipping consultancy Alphaliner.
State-owned COSCO Shipping Holdings lifted 5.49 million TEU (20-foot container units) in the third quarter, a 23 percent increase from the same period last year, surpassing Maersk's 5.26 million TEU, according to Alphaliner data published this week.
Dong Liwan, a shipbuilding professor at Shanghai Maritime University, said the triumph came as China has been ramping up efforts to boost its shipping sector.
Eager to restore the country's earning ability in the global shipping business, the government merged two State-owned shipping firms－China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co and China Shipping (Group) Co to form COSCO Shipping in 2016, to challenge the dominance of top players such as Maersk Line and Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co SA.
"In addition, the fast goods exchange between China and markets related to the Belt and Road Initiative had also contributed growth momentum to COSCO Shipping Holdings' container service business," said Dong.
China's foreign trade volume rose 16.6 percent year-on-year to 20.29 trillion yuan (.08 trillion) in the first three quarters of this year, the General Administration of Customs said.
COSCO Shipping Holdings reported that its net profit attributable to share holders grew to 1.86 billion yuan in the first half of this year, compared to a loss of approximately 7.17 billion yuan in the same period a year ago.
"COSCO Shipping will use its abundant overseas resources in growing new businesses, and provide support services from its overseas shipping and port networks," said Sun Jiakang, deputy general manager of COSCO Shipping.
Shipyards in China executed orders amounting to 35.15 million dead weight metric tons in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 41 percent year-on-year, statistics from Beijing-based China Association of National Shipbuilding Industry show. However, Alphaliner's report warned though major carriers were lifting greater volumes of boxes, it may not be translating into healthy returns.
"Carriers' inability to drive rates upwards during the seasonally stronger third quarter despite robust demand growth and continued rate weakness in October and November is expected to weigh down the earnings performance in the fourth quarter of the year," said the report.