Ocean shipping: Global Port Tracker shows growth but at a lower rate

There were 1.99 million TEU imports and 1.44 million TEU exports from Europe for 1.5 percent and 1.9 percent gains, respectively in May from April

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Stalled economic momentum in Europe, coupled with a slowdown in Asian exports, were the main theme of the monthly 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.

According to the Global Port Tracker Report, there were 1.99 million TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent units) imports and 1.44 million TEU exports from Europe for 1.5 percent and 1.9 percent gains, respectively in May from April. And total container volumes across the surveyed ports in May are estimated to have increased by 5.6 percent from April to 3.48 million TEU for a 9.2 percent annual increase.

Looking ahead to the third and fourth quarters, the report is calling for increases of 2.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively for incoming volumes, with outgoing volumes being pegged to increase 1.6 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. And for all six ports, imports and exports are projected to increase more than 9 percent in 2011, which is down from the 12.6 percent uptick in 2010.

Incoming and outgoing volumes are both expected to post annual gains in the next four quarters.

While growth is still modestly occurring, the report explained that import and export deep sea container volumes across Europe are down from a March 2011 high.

The reasons for this vary, but troubled economies in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland that are forcing these nations to adjust their fiscal policies, as well as diminished consumer confidence, are playing large roles.

“The weakness in imports and exports is going to lead to sharply reduced growth in the second half of the year,” said Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates. “We will still see positive numbers, though, but not in line with what we expected three months ago. Most of that is due to the total collapse of consumer confidence, with the Euro crisis and unemployment.”

Mismanagement of federal fiscal affairs in Europe is a major concern for consumers, said Hackett, and is leading the Global Port Tracker Report to reduce future projections, said Hackett.

Part of that is due to lower export numbers coming out of Asia which will lead to lower TEU numbers in Europe in the subsequent months.

This sluggish growth is likely to lead to a more “muted” Peak Season, too, according to Hackett. He added that this will also be reflected through a sharp decline in freight rates in conjunction with lower volumes.

About the Author

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. Contact Jeff Berman

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