Global Port Tracker report points to flat growth amid difficult circumstances
October 26, 2011 - LM Editorial
Growth prospects in Northern Europe remain stalled, 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 0.9 percent in August from July to 3.42 million TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent Units), with August up 4.5 percent year-over-year and 8.5 percent year-to-date through August—and year-to-date imports and exports up 10.1 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. And on a sequential basis, the 1.98 million TEU imported into Europe and the 1.48 million TEU exported out of Europe were down 0.6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, from July.
For the calendar year 2011, the report’s authors are calling for total import growth to be up 7.3 percent, with imports into North Europe to be up 8.9 percent. Despite this projection, total growth, according to the report, is forecasted in one of the next six months, and annual growth is anticipated in four of these months, with double-digit growth expected in three of them.
These projections come against the backdrop of a very difficult financial situation in Europe, which includes the financial crisis in Greece, and the Eurozone meeting being held this week among leaders of European nations to help resolve the European debt crisis.
“It does not look like at this point the Eurozone meeting is going to solve the existing problems as there is too much disagreement,” said Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates. “Without an agreement, it spells a major crisis for the Euro and will probably leave Greece hanging out on its own, with Spain and Italy not far behind. It will be make or break for Greece with the Euro not far behind.”
What’s more, the potential impact on global trade due to these circumstances could be devastating, said Hackett, as it could cause a financial crisis as the banks try to avoid losing huge sums of money on Greece and loans, coupled with consumers cutting back on non-essential purchases altogether.
Given this tenuous situation, Hackett explained that the numbers in August, despite the many issues occurring at the moment, are a testament to how well Europe is holding up compared to North America, with solid year-to-date numbers for international trade.
“The fourth quarter, though, is showing some weakness so far compared to previous quarters,” said Hackett. “Growth in Europe has been pretty flat since July, with some seasonal weakness in effect.”
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