PETALING JAYA: Three major ports in Malaysia are confident they will meet their volume targets this year but are bracing for slower growth next year due to the global economic downturn.
Ports that have been recording substantial growth over the years have not been spared the whiplash from the global economic crisis.
Northport (M) Bhd managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Basheer Hassan Abdul Kader told StarBiz the port would be able to achieve its volume target of slightly less than three million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) this year, up 4.9% from 2.86 million TEUs recorded last year.
“This is because we had done well in the first half of this year but the last quarter is a little bit slow,” he told reporters after delivering a talk the Selangor Freight Forwarders and Logistics Association in Port Klang recently.
Northport’s November volume stood at 261,251 TEUs, down 7.3% against the same month last year.
Going forward, Basheer said Northport would be very concerned about the country’s economy as it depended a lot on trade.
“If Malaysian trade is affected, of course it will have some impact on our business. But with low gearing of almost 0%, we are quite robust to withstand the onslaught,” he said, adding that Northport had survived the Asian financial crisis of 1997/98.
He added that Northport would continue to operate prudently and would look into postponing taking on less important costs, such as advertising, next year.
Echoing a similar oulook, Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd will not be expecting the usual double-digit volume growth next year that it had been enjoying previously.
But the port is still expecting to post a 16.3% volume growth to five million TEUs this year.
For the month of November, Westports still recorded a growth of 5.4% to 390,000 TEUs against November last year.
Executive director Ruben Emir Gnanalingam said the port industry would see some decline in volume next year.
“Looking at the current global economy and its prospects going forward into 2009, it will take a long time to recover, maybe until 2010,” he told StarBiz.
Malaysia’s leading transhipment terminal operator, Port of Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd (PTP), is also on track to meet its volume target of 5.8 million TEUs this year, an increase of 6.2% against last year, although it has felt a slight volume contraction in the last quarter of this year.
PTP recorded a decrease of 2.5% to 449,000 TEUs in November compared to the same month last year.
The port expects to achieve commendable growth next although it has acknowledged that it would not be as robust as in previous years.
Transways Logistics (M) Sdn Bhd, a logistics provider in Port Klang, expects the volume of exports to decrease further after the first quarter of next year.
Its managing director Alan Tan told StarBiz that based on the current situation where furniture and food exporters were facing shrinking demand, the export volume at Port Klang was expected to fall between 20% and 30% next year, especially after the first quarter.
“But local logistics companies such as Transways are currently experiencing a surge in demand from multinationals as they open more tenders to other players which ignite competitive pricing rather than depending on one or two logistics providers.
“This is in tandem with the cost cutting measures of the multinationals in this gloomy economy.
“Warehouse business is also doing well to store commodities that are currently having price downtrend such as scrap metal,” he said.