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Global Port Tracker report says 2010 is finishing strong

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
January 25, 2011

European ocean container volumes for 2010 appear to be finishing up in solid fashion based on the most recent edition of the Global Port Tracker Report published by 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.

The report noted that estimates for November 2010, the most recent month for which data is available, were just above the 3 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) mark in November, representing a near 10 percent increase compared to November 2010. And November figures for total deep sea European trade, excluding transshipments and empties, checked in at an estimated 1.73 million imported TEU and 1.29 million exported TEU for increases of 12.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, compared to November 2009.

According to the report, 2010 in its entirety is forecasted at 15.23 million incoming TEU and 15.72 outgoing TEU for 12.9 and 11.2 percent gains, respectively, over 2009. Total 2010 volume remains very close to previous projections of 37.38 million TEU, which is 12.5 percent higher than 2009’s 33.22 million TEU.

“These numbers are telling us that 2010 appears to be ending slightly slower than the April through August period and is in line with expectations,” said Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates, in an interview. “It also showed that the volumes in the first few months of 2011 are not as strong [with two January and February expected to be down months] as the industry had hoped they would be, due to things like European government fiscal austerity measures and the Chinese New Year. Carriers were hoping for a surge in demand in January, but that has not taken place in great detail.”

Hackett also noted that much of 2010 volume gains were due to comparisons to a difficult 2009, adding that freight rates in 2011 are likely to be impacted, with supply continuing to outstrip demand and put downward pressure on freight rates, translating into good news for shippers and bad news for carriers.

This, he said, is a result of carriers thinking in the first half of 2010 that too much capacity was a bad thing, leading to a need for rate recovery. As a result, carriers then removed capacity in the third quarter and brought in back online during the fourth quarter of 2010, with some carriers again pulling capacity as volumes declined towards the end of 2010, which caused freight rates to drop as carriers tried to hold onto market share.

Following a slow start to 2011, the Global Port Tracker report is calling for a February rebound, with each month of the forecast expected to post single-digit increases compared to prior year levels. Exports are expected to decrease in four of the next six months and imports are expected to increase on a single-digit level. And imports and exports in Europe are expected to decline for two quarters before growing 6.6 percent and 5.4 percent in the second and third quarters of 2011 for imports, respectively, according to the report, with exports expected to grow 5.8 percent and 3 percent during the same period.

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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