Rotterdam’s container traffic fell 1.6 percent in the first half of 2012 from a year ago as sharply lower imports from China because of the deepening eurozone crisis outweighed increased exports from Europe’s biggest box hub to Asia and the U.S.
The decline, to 5.86 million 20-foot-equivalent units, was, however, an improvement on the 4 percent year-on-year drop in box traffic in the first quarter.
The lower box traffic, mirroring a second quarter decline at second ranked Hamburg, contrasted with a 3.2 percent increase in Rotterdam’s overall throughput to 222 million metric tons driven by growth in dry and liquid bulk cargoes.
The port authority attributed the drop in containers to changes in the import/export ratio with Asia. “Imports from Asia fell due to the stagnating European economy. Exports to Asia and the US and doing well, though, thanks to Chinese demand for quality products and the slight recovery in the American economy,” they said.
The number of empty containers leaving the port in the first six months dropped by almost 20 percent.
Roll-on ,roll-off shipments grew 0.5 percent to 8.8 million tons, despite the recession in the U.K., Rotterdam’s biggest short sea market.
Conventional and breakbulk cargo gave up the gains of the past 12 months, declining 24.9 percent to 3.1 million tons, mainly due to a corresponding collapse in European demand for steel products that depressed the import of slabs from Brazil. There was a “slight” fall in paper, wood and cellulose cargoes while “virtually all” fruit imports arrive in containers.
Liquid bulk traffic was up 10.6 percent at 107.5 million tons, driven by 9.6 percent growth in crude oil shipments to 50.6 million tons and a 13.8 percent jump in mineral oil products to 39.9 million tons.
Dry bulk throughput fell 8.7 percent to 39.6 million tons, led by a 15.1 percent slump in iron and scrap shipments to 16.4 million tons.
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