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Minimal container volume growth at Port of Rotterdam amid Chinese and Russian economic slowdowns

Minimal container volume growth at Port of Rotterdam amid Chinese and Russian economic slowdowns
Accounts vary on whether the Maasvlakte II facility is up to speed yet

The Port of Rotterdam Authority has attributed the minimal growth in its container throughput in the third quarter to lower Chinese exports, the deterioration of the Russian economy and its new terminals not operating at full speed.

The port has announced that it handled around 9.3m teu in the first nine months of 2015, a 1% increase from the 9.2m teu handled in the same period last year.

In tonnes, the volume handled from January to September this year was virtually the same compared to the same period in 2014, with a negligible growth of 0.2%.

The port said: “This is caused by lower Chinese exports, slowing of the growth of emerging economies such as Brazil, and the deterioration of the Russian economy which reduces the throughput of containers (short sea and feeder traffic) to this region.

“Moreover, the new terminals on Maasvlakte II are not yet operating at sufficient speed to handle large volumes.”

The port said that the high occupancy rate of container terminals on its Maasvlakte I facility is currently restraining growth, adding that, for containers, short sea traffic to Britain was a stand-out, thanks to a strong UK economy.

Despite the port claims, terminal operator APM Terminals announced that its Maasvlakte II facility set a record for loading in Rotterdam on the Madison Maersk with 17,152 teu loaded.

The new terminal, the construction of which started in 2012, is built on land entirely reclaimed from the North Sea and has been designed as a multi-modal hub.

China, which has been suffering from a slowdown in its economic growth, saw a 17.7% year-on-year drop in imports and a 1.1% in exports, in yuan-denominated terms, in September this year.

As regards Russia, amidst lower oil prices and increased oil volatility, the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s recently lowered its forecasts for the country’s economic growth from -2.6% to -3.6% in 2015, and from 1.9% to 0.3% next year.

The Port of Rotterdam ranked 11th in the 2015 issue of CM’s World Top Container Ports, having handled 12,297,570 teu in 2014.