Numbers released over the past month revealed that both Rotterdam and Hamburg’s container terminals experienced volume growth in the low single digits, with the German port seeing container volume measured in TEUs rise by 1% to 8.9m TEUs. Growth here was powered by the huge trade with China which edged up by 1.6% and the rest of Asia by 1.3%. Slightly surprisingly Russian trade also grew at 4.5% whilst business with the US and UK expanded in double digits. Some aspects of Hamburg’s Baltic trade suffered from competition but generally the demand picture appeared reasonable.
Rotterdam experienced similar growth, with container throughput up by 1.3% at 12.4m TEUs. East Asia and the US grew as did short-sea routes to the UK and elsewhere, however for Rotterdam Russian traffic fell. The Dutch port is seeing a shift to its new Maasvlakte 2 development, which ought to offer the potential at least of much greater volumes.
In contrast things in the UAE were a little slower. DP World’s global business did reasonably well with top-line volumes up 3.2% even if like-for-like operations saw a fall of 2.2%. Asia Pacific and the Americas both grew by over 4%, however DP World’s Europe, Middle East and Africa ports saw an expansion of just 1.4% and even then this was in great part due to the success of ports such as London Gateway. The key UAE complex saw throughput on a like-for-like basis fall by 5.3% to 14.7m TEUs. This performance however does represent an improvement to the situation in the first half of the year and to a degree reflects a reduction in transhipment cargoes.
So whilst underlying demand for container shipping looks positive if rather unexciting in Europe, conditions in some other parts of the world, such as those dependent on the oil price, are only just beginning to recover.
Source: Transport Intelligence, February 28, 2017
Author: Thomas Cullen