MARITIME consultancy Hackett Associates in its latest edition of North Europe Global Port Tracker has forecast that total volume in the six major north European container ports of Le Havre, Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Bremen/Bremerhaven and Hamburg will increase by 3.9 per cent in 2014.

The report, produced together with the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics, said this annual throughput will exclude transhipment and empty container moves, with exports expected to be up 3.4 per cent, following a 1.6 per cent increase from 2012 to 2013, the Logistics Management reported.

With growth in Eurozone nations seeing a mere 0.5 per cent GDP, the report observed that the slight gains in trade volumes for the surveyed ports were clearly impacted by unemployment at 12 per cent, which dampened consumer demand.

For the whole of last year, North Europe ports saw imports fall 1.2 per cent to 15.8 million TEU, while exports were down 0.3 per cent to 17.3 million TEU. Outside of North Europe, total European imports and exports were each up 3.4 per cent in 2013, with imports at 21.5 million TEU and exports at 17.4 million TEU.

Hackett Associates’ founder Ben Hackett noted in the report that when removing transhipment and empty container moves, North Europe ports were up 2.2 per cent in 2013, even with a weak fourth quarter.

Mr Hackett said that the European Central Bank’s decision to cut its interest rate to 0.5 per cent has left it with few options to help stimulate the economy.

“As a result, the demand side of the equation is firmly in the hands of the consumers’ sense of confidence in the future on the one hand and China’s economic expansion on the other,” he stated.

Asian Shipper News

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