Rotterdam continues to shrug off Europe’s economic slowdown, posting record container throughput as first-half volumes grew 6.4 percent over the same period last year.
Europe’s busiest container port handled 7.5 million TEU in the first six months of the year, up 452,000 TEU from the 2018 period. It puts Rotterdam on pace to surpass last year's record throughput of 14.5 million TEU.
Results for Antwerp and Hamburg, Europe’s number two and three ports, respectively, have not yet been released.
Rotterdam pegged the year-over-year increase to stronger imports from Asia and growing demand for transshipment. The port, in a statement, said there was a rise in intercontinental cargo transported to and from European destinations via Rotterdam, while the volume of full import containers from Asia increased.
The port interpreted that as a sign of growing economies in which more consumer goods, semi-finished products, and parts were being imported for consumption and production in Europe. Its statement noted the strong growth in TEU was also related to the increased need to reposition empty containers due to the imbalance in trade between Europe and Asia.
“Throughput in the port is doing well, particularly in the strategically important container market segment. The financial results of the Port Authority are good,” Rotterdam port CEO Allard Castelein said. “We can therefore continue to invest in the port, in physical infrastructure, and in digital solutions for trade and logistics.”
Strength in weakness
The throughput strength of Rotterdam is curious considering the economic outlook for Europe is anything but positive. The IHS Markit Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) revealed that operating conditions in Europe deteriorated for a fifth successive month during June. JOC is a unit of IHS Markit.
It was equally uncertain at the other end of the Asia-Europe trade, where the IHS Markit/Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI in June slid to its second lowest since June 2016, indicating a clear contraction in the manufacturing sector.