Container volumes across Europe ended the year on a high note with estimates for November 2010 reaching just over 3 million 20-foot equivalent units of containers and for 2011 growth in the high single digits, according to the Global Port Tracker.
Volume increased nearly 10 percent over the same month the previous year, said Hackett Associates and the Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics in their North Europe Trade Outlook, released Monday.
These figures, for all deep-sea European trade excluding transshipments and empties, include an estimated 1.73 million imported TEUs and 1.29 million exported TEUs, increases of 12.6 percent and 6.2 percent respectively compared to November 2009.
Port Tracker news from JOC:
Port Tracker Forecasts 8 Percent January Import Growth
Import and export volumes are expected to grow through the six months of the short-term forecast with double-digit growth in exports for January and in imports for February. The forecast for 2010 of 21.12 million imported TEUs remains unchanged from previous Port Tracker forecasts and represents a 13.8 percent increase over 2009.
Total exports are forecast to increase by 9 percent to 15.44 million TEUs.
Ben Hackett, principal of Hackett Associates, forecast high single-digit growth for imports and exports in 2011 but cautioned, "We should not expect to see a repeat of last year's growth for imports as these were the result of the post-recessionary period whereas this year will be impacted by the austerity measures of the European governments."
Hackett said supply of vessel capacity will continue to outstrip demand and put downward pressure on freight rates, "particularly if carriers revert to market share strategies."
Across the six North European ports monitored by the Global Port Tracker, a total of 15.23 million incoming TEUs and 15.72 outgoing TEUs are forecast for 2010, which would represent gains on 2009 of 12.9 percent and 11.2 percent respectively. The total volume forecast for 2010 is virtually unchanged at 37.38 million TEUs for a 12.5 percent increase over 2009's 33.22 million TEUs.
Looking ahead, Port Tracker forecasts inbound volumes will drop before a rebound in February while each month of the forecast is expected to post a single-digit increase on prior year levels. On the export side, volumes are forecast to decrease in four of the coming six months although, as with imports, each month is expected to post a single-digit increase on prior year levels.
The longer-term forecast projects inbound and outbound volumes will decline for two quarters before growth of 6.6 percent and 5.4 percent in inbound volumes for the second and third quarters respectively of 2011 and growth of 5.8 percent and 3 percent for the same two quarters for outbound volumes.
Michael Tasto of ISL explained that the modest growth forecast for the North European ports should be viewed as a return to a modest long-term growth path under the influence of the aftermath of the stock building processes witnessed early in 2010. This should lead to only modest growth rates of around 2 percent in the first and second quarter of 2011 while gaining momentum again in the summer. Under this careful assessment, he said throughput of containers may actually exceed the previous record.
To take a closer look at one of the six ports examined, the forecast for 2010 for the Port of Antwerp is 8.43 million TEUs, a 15.3 percent gain on 2009's 7.31 million TEUs. This figure includes 3.2 million incoming and 3.93 million outgoing TEUs, respective gains of 17.1 percent and 16.9 percent over 2009. The long-term forecast is for small declines in imports for two quarters followed by increases in the second and third quarters of 2011. Exports are expected to decline for all the months in the short-term forecast with the exception of a double-digit increase in March 2011.
-- Contact Peter T. Leach at email@example.com.