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Global Port Tracker report cites a hesitant recovery in Europe

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
February 26, 2013

Signs of a meaningful economic recovery in Europe appear to be slim at the moment, based on the most recent edition of the Global Port Tracker report from Hackett Associates and the Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics.

Ports surveyed in this report include the six major container reports in North Europe: le Havre, Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Bremen/Bremerhaven, and Hamburg.

As previously reported, myriad difficult economic circumstances in the Eurozone, including unemployment, consumer confidence, and especially tight fiscal policies have served as drivers in the continent’s economy continuing to head for a contraction, which will further hinder trade activity there.

“There should be no doubt that the North European expectations of any significant growth in the volumes of North European trade are nothing but an illusion,” said Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates, in the report.

This matches up with previous forecasts by Hackett, suggesting that it is unlikely a true economic recovery will occur there before 2014, as LM has reported.

According to the report, 2013 imports in North Europe, including the United Kingdom, are expected to be up 1.8 percent after a 0.8 percent decline in 2012. Exports are expected to be up 7.9 percent compared to 9.5 percent in 2012, which the report noted will be largely driven by export activity out of Germany.

And for the six ports covered in the Global Port Tracker report, imports are expected to fall 2.5 percent in 2013 to 15.5 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) and exports are expected to increase by 1.1 percent to 17.6 million TEU. Total European imports and exports are expected to decrease 3.2 percent and rise 9.3 percent to 20.2 million TEU and 18.7 million TEU, respectively.

In highlighting how sluggish the European economy is the report said it expects a 0.1 percent decrease in total moves over the next six month compared to the same period a year ago, with total incoming loaded containers projected to decrease by 0.85 percent during the same period. And outgoing loaded containers are expected to increase 0.4 percent over the next six months compared to a 6.4 percent increase during the same period in 2012.

Looking at the capacity environment in the ocean cargo market at the moment, Hackett told LM that available capacity is increasing due to the number of new ships coming online.

“Overall, capacity is rising,” he said. “Our belief is that there will be consolidation among carriers this year. Raising rates, though, will be tough with volumes still low and new capacity coming.”

About the Author

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Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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