Rotterdam sees fall in container volumes for 2013

2013 was a difficult year for the Port of Rotterdam with container traffic falling by 2.1% as measured in Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) with some other trades seeing similar sized falls. This is despite the inclusion of the neighbouring Port of Dordrecht which has been bought by Rotterdam. The total container through-put for 2013 was 11.6m TEUs.

Dry bulk rose strongly, driven by a dynamic agricultural sector, which saw double digit percentage growth, and by coal imports, which have benefitted from electricity generators in Europe buying cheap US production to compensate for Germany’s declining nuclear generation. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) also saw a leap in demand as the global trade in gas continued to boom.

Car-carrier and related traffic increased 3.3%.

Yet the headline container through-put figure is mildly disappointing. Admittedly Rotterdam is anticipating that the gradual opening of the Maasvlatke 2 development will reposition itself in the container market in Northern Europe, Yet at present Rotterdam’s performance contrasts with that of Hamburg, where HHLA is on-course for an increase of container volumes of 5.1%. Both ports compete for German import and export traffic, however Hamburg is obviously better placed for central European volumes whilst the German port also claims to benefit from its rail based capabilities through-out Germany.

However Rotterdam’s neighbour, the Port of Antwerp, also saw a slight fall of 0.7% at 8.5m TEUs and generally the volumes have been flat in the Le-Havre- Hamburg range. With new capacity being added at Felixstowe and London Gateway, the area around the south of the region is becoming more competitive whilst the more northerly ports are benefitting from the strength of the Baltic trades as well as the general strength of German export traffic. So the up-tick in demand expected for 2014 has to be watched carefully for any signs of a continued shift in market-share at the expense of the low-country ports.


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