The two largest Benelux ports, the Port of Antwerp and the Port of Rotterdam, reported container throughput growth of 5.0% and 4.2% growth respectively in the first nine months of the year.
Antwerp has handled 6,725,777 teu, with container volume rising by 6.0% to 81,127,972 tonnes while Rotterdam dealt with 9,213,118 teu despite a slow start to the year.
Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said: “With the exception of a few sectors, the port is doing pretty well. Particularly striking is the 4% increase in containers. After March, even as high as an average 6%.”
Rotterdam’s results may seem pleasantly surprising since the summer saw congestion and delays at the ECT Delta and Euromax terminals, owing to the installation of new cranes, causing multiple ships to be diverted to Antwerp.
Two new terminals, Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG) and APM Terminals (APMT), are set to open in the coming months on the Maasvlakte II development.
Castelein added: “This makes it even clearer that we badly need the new terminals on Maasvlakte 2 if we are to achieve further growth. The increase of no less than 31% in the handling of other mixed cargo is also noteworthy. However mineral oil products in particular, at -11%, are considerably down on last year.”
Rotterdam’s port authority stated it had seen a 6% increase in deep sea container traffic (to and from other continents), a 2% fall in feeder traffic (pre-transport and post-transport of deep sea containers) and a 4% rise in short sea containers (where both the departure point and destination are within Europe).
Meanwhile, Antwerp handled a total freight volume of 148,344,168 tonnes during the first nine months of this year – a 3.7% increase on the equivalent period last year.
The Belgian port also revealed that 10,526 ships called between January and September, a decrease of 2.3%. However, gross tonnage rose by 1.9% to 251,604,830 GT, confirming the trend towards fewer but larger and more heavily laden ships.
The Port of Antwerp generated direct added value of €9.9bn (US$12.5bn) in 2013, according to a flash estimate by the National Bank of Belgium, 1.6% below 2012’s figures. Direct employment rose in 2013 by 1.0%, to 61,873 full-time equivalents.
The port authority also welcomed the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) approval of the 2M alliance between Maersk and MSC, claiming the pact had “opted resolutely for Antwerp”.
A comprehensive assessment of the Benelux region will be available in CM’s November magazine.