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Sri Lanka private port terminal volumes up 33-pct

(LBO) – Cargo volumes at a Colombo port private container terminal in which John Keells Holdings has a big stake rose sharply in January, albeit from a low base the year before as trade recovers from recession.

South Asia Gateway Terminals handled 162,890 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent container Units) in January 2010, data released by the firm showed.

The container volume was up 33 percent from the same month the previous year when trade volumes had slumped owing to recession.

It was SAGT’s second highest-ever monthly volumes, according to analysts.

The rise in container volumes indicates the recovery in trade was gathering momentum, analysts said.

SAGT, in which John Keells Holdings has a 42.2 percent stake, handled a record high volume of containers in 2009 despite the global economic slump which reduced shipping volumes worldwide.

In 2009 SAGT’s volumes were up 1.4 percent to 1,749,796 TEUs from the previous year and it also took market share from the government-owned terminals.

In December 2009, SAGT’s container volumes rose 26.5 percent to 155,691 TEUs from a year earlier.

However, 76 percent of SAGT’s container volumes consist of transshipment traffic on which profit margins are lower.

Container volumes at the government-owned Jaya Container Terminal are also recovering as trade flows picked up with global recession coming to an end.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority said the JCT handled a total of 153,317 20-foot containers in December 2009, up 12.5 percent from the same month a year ago.

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