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Global Port Tracker report points to deep European recession

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 26, 2012

Stagnant and sluggish economic conditions, including declining consumer confidence, high unemployment, and tight fiscal policy, among others, continue to paint a dark picture of the European economic outlook, 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.

“This continued weakness in the European economies confirms that the recession is here and will continue to impact trade flows over the coming six months,” said Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates, in the report. “Looking forward into 2013 does not provide for much optimism. Our model suggests the recovery will not come before 2014.”

The Global Port Tracker report stated that total European volumes are projected to drop 9.3 percent over the next six months, compared to a 6.7 percent decline for the same period a year ago. And imports are projected to decline 11.9 percent and exports are projected to decline 4.7 percent for the same period, compared to respective 4.7 and 9.9 percent declines a year ago. For all of 2012, Global Port Tracker expects to see a 3.9 percent in total imports.

And for the 6 surveyed ports in the report, Global Port Tracker said it is projecting imports to decline by 2.8 percent in 2012 to 16.04 million TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalents), with exports projected to grow 3.6 percent to 17.49 million TEU. Total handled volumes for 2012—at 39.99 million TEU—would represent a modest 0.2 percent gain.

According to the report, intra-European trade patterns remain challenging, with ISL research suggesting that for both intra-European and selected intra-Asian routes 1,750 TEU has been the main upper margin for deployed units, although carriers are using larger ships as they become spare due to the injection of the larger main line vessels.

Hackett told LM 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 dropped in the third quarter, with recent indications suggesting rates will remain weak on the spot market because of available capacity.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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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