Marseilles again fell short of its 1 million container target in 2011 as traffic declined 1 percent from a year ago even as France’s biggest port booked a 3 percent increase in total cargo throughput.
The port authority blamed the decline in container traffic, to 944,674 20-foot equivalent units, on a slowing European economy and national strikes by dockers against port and pension reforms. Two new container terminals at the Fos2XL development will become fully operational in March, providing a boost to box shipments, the port said.
Total throughput topped 88 million metric tons, driven by a 3 percent increase in oil shipments to 59.5 million tons.
Liquid bulk cargo grew 4 percent to 3.3 million tons on increased imports of chemicals. But dry bulk traffic slumped 17 percent to 9.8 million tons on weak demand in the steel industry, which cut imports by 24 percent to 5.7 million tons.
Conventional cargo shrunk 7 percent to 2 million tons, and roll-on, roll-off shipments declined 1 percent to 4.3 million tons.
Marseilles and Dunkirk were the only French ports to grow total traffic in 2011. Le Havre, France’s biggest container hub, suffered a 7.5 percent drop in container traffic to 2.22 million TEUs, while total tonnage was down 4 percent to 68.5 million tons.
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