Global Port Tracker report cites European economy difficulties as driver for low volumes

By Jeff Berman · February 5, 2013

Myriad difficult economic circumstances in the Eurozone, including unemployment, consumer confidence, and especially tight fiscal policies were drivers in the continent’s economy continuing to head for a contraction, which will further hinder trade activity there, according to 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.

“There should be no doubt that the North European economies are facing a tough time over the coming six months and that trade contraction will continue,” 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.

According to the Global Port Tracker report, total imports into Europe fell 5.1 percent, the most recent month for which data is available, with a 6.1 percent decline in North Europe and a 2.4 percent decline in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region. And total exports were down 4.3 percent, with North Europe down 1.3 percent and Mediterranean and the Black Sea region down 11.6 percent.

Over the next six months, the report expects a 1.3 percent decrease in total volumes, compared to a 2.7 percent increase for the same period the previous year. Imports are expected to see a 2.1 percent drop and exports are expected to be off by 0.4 percent compared to a 1 percent decline and a 0.1 percent, gain, respectively, for the previous year. And total imports are forecasted to decrease by 4.5 percent in 2012, while North Europe is expected to be down 2.2 percent.

Hackett told LM in a recent interview that in regards to the ocean cargo market, carriers have managed to not have a “freight war” as was the case last year and have removed capacity from the system for the Trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trade lanes, the latter of which he said is down about 15 percent.

On the Trans-Pacific side, he said there have been a fair amount of missed sailings and cancelled services, which represent a fairly significant reduction.

What’s more, Hackett said that ocean freight rates have been declining, with recent indications suggesting rates will remain weak on the spot market because of available capacity.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
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. Contact Jeff Berman

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