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Global Port Tracker report shows sequential declines for imports and exports

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
August 31, 2011

As was the case last month, stalled economic growth and bearish economic indicators are pointing to slower growth, 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 report stated that total container volumes at these ports were estimated to have decreased by 5.2 percent from May to June, which came in at 3.35 million TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent Units), and was up 5.9 percent compared to June 2011. And it is calling for a 7.8 percent annual gain for all of 2011 compared to 2010, which is due largely to a strong first half and the seasonal uptick in September and October.

In June, the report said there was a total of 1.88 million TEU imported into Europe, with 1.42 million TEU exported out of Europe, which are down 5.4 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, from May. On an annual basis, Global Port Tracker is calling for European imports and exports to be up 6.7 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in 2011.

“The reason the total European numbers are worse than those from the six ports surveyed is that it includes Ireland, and the United Kingdom, where demand has been dropping more rapidly than it has been in the rest of Europe,” said Hackett Associates President Ben Hackett. “But for the six ports in the report we are looking for things to slow down after Peak Season, and the growth rates are still healthy compared to the U.S., because the first half of the year was relatively strong except for February. It would take a disastrous event to get rid of that growth rate.”

While projected growth is being forecasted at a lesser rate than a year ago, the overall numbers are solid, even with volumes expected to tail off in the fourth quarter of 2011 into early 2012, with Hackett noting the 2012 growth rate could be about half of this year’s growth rate.

Another factor influencing the volumes at the surveyed ports in the report is that there are fairly good volumes being reported for intra-European trade, according to Hackett.

When asked about this year’s Peak Season prospects, Hackett said it is already taking form in the U.S. in the form of slightly improved freight rates and carriers implementing Peak Season surcharges.

And with the amount of inventory that was being held, Hackett said a Peak Season of some sort is in effect although it will not be as strong as other ones due to a lack of strong demand.

“No matter what happens, Peak Season in the U.S. is likely to be over by the end of September or early October,” said Hackett. “It will come later in Europe, because the sales occur later, with the Peak Season starting later in September and October and ending around the first week of November.”

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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