By Tony Akleh
Shipping sources fear worst is yet to come after 20% slump in freight activity during August
Port of Beirut freight activity contracted by 20.5 percent to around 288,000 tons during August, down from 362,000 tons in the previous month, in the aftermath of the devastating explosion.
According to statistics released by the Port of Beirut on Wednesday, freight activity declined by 38.34 percent year-on-year to 2,895,000 tons in the first eight months of 2020, from 4,695,000 tons in the same period last year.
Sources at shipping companies operating at the port told Arabian Business the decline in activity is likely to worsen in the coming months following the blast, which inflicted huge damage to silos and containers.
They said the explosion just worsened further a sharp slowdown in activity seen since the beginning of the year.
The number of vessels dropped by 20.89 percent to 928, with the number of imported cars plunging by nearly 77 percent from 27,911 units to 8,430 over the same period.
The port handled containers with a total cargo capacity of around 524,166,000 TEUs up to August compared with a cargo capacity of some 859,933,000 TEUs in the same period last year.
Port revenues also slumped by 45.73 percent on an annual basis to $74.1 million in August while the quantity of goods handled fell by 38.5 percent to 2,895,000 tons in the first eight months of 2020, on the back of a net decline in import activity by almost 50 percent in the first half of the year.
Lebanese trade activity has deteriorated amid the current economic and financial crisis and ongoing capital controls restricting Lebanon's ability to import goods.
A large fire also erupted at Beirut port on September 10, engulfing parts of the Lebanese capital in a cloud of smoke, just weeks after the explosion - causing further disruption to trade at the port.