Global Port Tracker report calls for slow growth in 2011
February 22, 2011 - LM Editorial
A moderate increase in European import and export volumes is expected in 2011, according to 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.
For 2011, the report is calling for imports to be up 8.6 percent to hit slightly more than 23 million TEU and exports are expected to grow slightly less than 7 percent to 16.63 million TEU.
In its previous edition, Hackett and Bremen said that 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.
For December, the most recent month for which data is available, the report noted that total container volumes for all surveyed ports were estimated to have decreased by 2.2 percent—or 66,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units)—to 3.00 million TEU from November and were up 4.2 percent compared to December 2009.
The Port Tracker report added that December imports were up about 2.7 percent from November and exports were down about 3.5 percent from November. Imports and exports were up 3.4 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, from December 2009, with incoming volumes at 1.2 million TEU and outgoing volumes at 1.27 million TEU and the remaining 0.53 million representing empties.
Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates, said in an interview that January and February were likely to be down in terms of volume, due in part to the Chinese New Year, before picking up in March, adding that the first quarter should end up being stronger than the third or fourth quarters.
Even with increases expected, Hackett cautioned that austerity packages in place throughout European countries need to be monitored when it comes to assessing future growth, coupled with economic weakness for some southern European Union members and rising inflation.
When asked about capacity, Hackett said that there is more than enough capacity to handle European imports and exports, following a 2010 which saw carriers removing capacity in the third quarter of 2010 and then bringing it back in the fourth quarter, 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.
“There is more than enough capacity at the moment, as nobody has removed much the fourth quarter,” said Hackett. “Excess capacity has been driving freight rates down a bit, too. There are no container or capacity shortages at this point.”
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