APM Terminals, the port operating arm of Danish shipping and oil conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk, sees global container port volumes growing again in 2010 after a steep drop in 2009.

“I would expect a 5 to 10 percent annual growth in volumes in 2010 following a 10 percent decline in 2009,” Christian Laursen, APM Terminals Chief Financial Officer, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Transfin 2010 conference in Barcelona.

The global shipping industry is clawing back from a steep plunge in 2008-2009 as world trade recovers. Increasing freight rates and volumes helped A.P. Moller-Maersk back to profits in the first quarter of this year.

“When you have an industry that is planning for a 10 to 15 percent growth (as seen in the years before) and then you see a drop of 10 percent, then suddenly you free up quite a bit of capacity,” Laursen said.

“We believe that trade will be more balanced going forward, that the strong imbalances in the world economy that we saw leading up to the crisis in 2009 will now need to be corrected to some extent.”

APM, which competes with PSA International, Hutchison and DP World , operates a network of 50 ports in 34 countries.

In 2009, it generated 37 percent of its revenues in emerging markets in Asia, India, Africa and Brazil, tapping on opportunities associated with the upgrading of outdated port infrastructure.

“We have seen quite a number of terminal and port projects being either cancelled or deferred or rescheduled over the last couple of years and that should mean that the difference between supply and demand can be resolved relatively quickly,” Laursen said.

“A return to the very high growth rates of the past may not happen,” he added. (Reuters)