Global Port Tracker report says volumes remain on a steady path

By Jeff Berman · April 27, 2011

Following a relatively promising report last month, European import and export volumes remain solid, 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.

The Global Port Tracker report said that February imports into Europe were estimated at 1.50 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU), which is 25 percent below January. But despite this decrease, the report said it expects volumes in the coming months to “increase dramatically.”

On the export side, the report said February exports were estimated at 1.30 million TEU for a 3.3 percent increase.

“This forecast is broadly similar to the previous ones,” said Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates, in an interview. “We ratcheted down the growth volumes from 2010 from 14 percent to about 7-to-8 percent for this year. And we think that will remain the case, with most of the growth coming in the second half of this year. There is growth occurring but at a much lower level than last year. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest there is a downturn in growth.”

When asked about the impact of increasing fuel prices on European volumes, Hackett said that they have reduced consumer demand to a certain extent, but, overall, volumes remain in line with what was expected to due to various price increases and taxation.

Compared to last year, when global trade activity was brisk due to a significant inventory re-build following the depths of the recession, Hackett said things appear to be more normal this year.

“We had the early Peak Season last year, but in our current forecast we have shifted it back to what we would typically expect it to be,” said Hackett. “There is no shortage of shipping capacity or containers, and the re-stocking has worked its way through the normal supply chain management cycle.”

The report’s short-term forecast is calling for “a mix of growth and decreased volumes” with expected single-digit growth in each quarter for the remainder of this year. And for outgoing volumes, the report is forecasting increases for three of the next six months, with each month showing annual growth except for April.

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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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