Europe’s imports and exports are expected to decline in the next six months amid concerns that the region’s economy will contract further, according to Global Port Tracker’s North Europe Trade Outlook.
The report projects a 9.3 percent drop in container volumes in the next six months at six major North European ports, compared with a 6.7 percent decrease a year earlier.
North European Imports are expected to fall 11.9 percent, compared with a 4.7 percent in the comparable period a year earlier. Exports are forecast to decrease 4.7 percent, compared with a 9.9 percent drop a year earlier.
“The continued weakness in the European economies confirms that the recession is here and will continue to impact trade flows over the coming six months,” said
economist Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, which publishes the report with the Bremen-based Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics.
“Looking forward into 2013 does not provide for much optimism. Our model suggests that recovery will not come before 2014,” Hackett said.
Consumer confidence in Europe has been hurt by rising unemployment, low wage growth and tight fiscal policies in many countries, the report said. The Eurozone’s unemployment rate hit a record 11.6 percent in September and manufacturing indices suggest weakness in output.
The report said forecast that Northern European ports’ incoming volumes of deep-sea, short-sea, transshipment and empty boxes will decline 2.8 percent this year to 16.04 million 20-foot-equivalent units. Outbound volumes are projected to grow 3.6 percent to 17.49 million TEUs.
North European ports are intensifying their competition for declining volumes. The report noted that Rotterdam recently announced a 2 percent cut in port fees, following earlier reductions.