Container throughput was 2% up at 63m tonnes, although in numbers, container throughput fell by close on 2% to 5.9m teu. Incoming container cargo was down slightly by 0.9%, but there was marked growth of 5% in outgoing trade. Imports from Asia fell due to the stagnating European economy.
Exports to Asia and the USA did well thanks to Chinese demand for quality products and the slight recovery in the American economy, supported by the lower Euro compared to the US dollar.
Short-sea transport increased by 3%, thanks to the Mediterranean and Scandinavia/Baltic regions, while the British/Irish market declined. The number of empty containers leaving the port fell by almost 20%.
Roll-on/roll-off transport rose by 0.5% to 8.8m tonnes, which was described as “not a bad achievement considering the economic shrinkage in England”. The port warned that given the on-going pressure on prices, continuation of the rationalisation in the sector is likely.
Other general cargo, including steel and non-ferrous metals, relinquished most of the gains achieved in the past twelve month, down 24.9% at 3.1m tonnes mainly because of a 25% fall in European demand for steel products. There was a slight fall in the handling of paper, wood and cellulose, while virtually all fruit now enters Rotterdam in containers.
Hans Smits, Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO said, “The Port of Rotterdam got off to a good start, with slightly higher than expected growth in throughput. This is in line with the recent report from Statistics Netherlands, in which the economic growth is attributed primarily to exports outside the EU. By far the majority of this travels via the Port of Rotterdam,” he said.
He predicted that the full-year throughput over the year as a whole would only show a modest growth of around one per cent.