Ocean container volumes are projected to show solid growth at European ports in the coming six months after a weak first quarter, according to the Global Port Tracker: North Europe Trade Outlook’s latest European trade forecast.
The forecast, released this week by Hackett Associates and the Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics, showed slightly less robust growth for the key six ports tracked, but nevertheless, growth is projected month-to-month and with the four forthcoming quarters all showing positive growth.
By the Numbers:
Europe-North America Westbound Container Traffic.
“We are now back to the levels last seen in early 2008 and we expect the monthly flows to continue to outperform last year’s volumes,” said Ben Hackett, principal of Hackett Associates
Nevertheless, Hackett warned that carriers will be under considerable pressure as freight rates remain weak because world trade this year is projected to grow only in single digits while vessel capacity expands at a double-digit rates. “One can certainly expect to see a return to laying up ships in the coming months,” he commented. “Oil and food price increases are taking their toll on consumer demand for goods.”
Although showing lower overall increases than those across all of Europe, the data shows that strong growth continues in the North European ports according to Sonke Maatsch of ISL, who pointed out that the typical seasonal dip in the last quarter was particularly strong in 2010, making forecasting more difficult than usual. “All in all, the fit of our short-term forecasts was close,” he added.
After a couple of active months in April and May incoming volumes are expected to settle down through September at the six North European ports monitored by the Global Port Tracker.
Import volume every month at each port through September is projected to post a year-over-year gain.
Export volumes at the six ports are expected to be relatively flat on a month-to-month basis, but solid year-over-year growth is anticipated. In the longer term, all four upcoming quarters are forecast to post year-over-year growth for both incoming and outgoing container volumes.
Port Tracker forecasts European imports and exports will post year-over-year growth in each quarter through at least the first quarter of 2012, with the third quarter of 2011 anticipated to post a strong gain. Double-digit year-over-year percentage gains are projected in three of the upcoming four quarters for North Europe and in two quarters for the Mediterranean-Black Sea region.
Port Tracker expects the Port of Hamburg to show healthy growth with volumes increasing as transshipment to Scandinavia and Russia picks up, especially in the second and third quarters of this year. It expects that all but one of the upcoming six months will post an increase over the previous month in incoming container volumes and all are anticipated to post year-over-year gains.
Similarly, all of the coming four quarters are projected to post year-over-year gains with the second and fourth quarter expected to show double-digit increases. Growth is also forecast to continue in outgoing container volumes with growth forecast in each of the upcoming months and quarters.