DUBAI: Ports operator DP World on Thursday reported a sharp drop in shipping container volumes in the United Arab Emirates in the first quarter of 2019 and flat growth globally.
DP World operates 78 marine and inland terminals, supported by over 50 related businesses in over 40 countries.
Gross container volumes fell by 0.6 percent on a reported basis and gross like-for-like volumes declined by 0.7 percent, it said in a statement.
The Dubai-based company handled 3.5 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) in the UAE, down 8.8 percent due "to the challenging macro environment and loss of lower-margin cargo", it said.
It handled 17.5 million TEUs globally, similar to volumes a year earlier.
Consolidated volumes, at terminals over which DP World has control, fell 3 percent on a like-for-like basis to 9.2 million TEUs, it said.
The company saw softer volumes "due to a strong prior-year performance and general caution in some markets given the current uncertainty in the macro environment," DP World Group chairman and chief executive Sultan bin Sulayem said.
In the UAE, volume weakness was mainly due to a loss of low-margin throughput as it focuses on profitable cargo, he said.
"While we expect the recent trends to continue into the second quarter, we do expect an improvement in the second half of the year," he said.
(Reporting by Stanley Carvalho, editing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Jason Neely)