The Port of Rotterdam handled 14.3m teu last year, representing a drop of 3% despite a recovery in the second half of 2020 as consumers spent on physical goods rather than services.
In the second half of the year, the port handled 76.4m tonnes of containerised throughput, up from 75.7m tonnes during the equivalent period in 2019, as world trade bounced back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across all cargo segments, throughput fell by 7% with double-digit declines in iron ore, coal, crude oil and mineral oil products.
Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said: “In an exceptional year, the port of Rotterdam was fully operational, allowing goods and raw materials to continue finding their way to consumers and businesses.”
Although the lower volumes resulted in a reduction in revenue from seaport dues, the port authority’s financial results improved, with a net result of €352m (US$430m), up by 47%.
This was related to the renewal of some site rental agreements at market rates as well as expenses falling due to cost-cutting measures and the cancellation of events and travel.
The result was also affected to a major extent by the fact that the planned reduction of the rate for corporation tax to 21.7% did not go ahead (remaining at 25%).
Looking to the year ahead, Castelein noted: “The day-to-day mindset of the business community in the Port of Rotterdam when it comes to maintaining our strong competitive position and leading role means we can be confident about the future of the port.
“This is where the money for tomorrow will be earned, which is why the port authority itself is expecting to invest around €1.5bn (US$1.8bn) in the next five years in the energy transition, digitalisation and infrastructure.”
During 2020, the port authority worked on several projects related to progressing towards a sustainable energy system. These included the preparations for the gearing up of hydrogen imports and the expansion of shore-power capacity.
A successful trial was conducted with Distro, a blockchain-based electricity platform, that helps port users cut energy costs by making better use of locally generated electricity and reducing peak loads on the electricity grid.
The port is also prioritising digitalisation, looking to improve the management of port infrastructure, enable the smooth and safe handling of shipping and drive improvements in the efficiency of logistical processes.
Last year, its digital agenda included the development of the Cargo Tracker app, which makes it possible for companies to follow all import movements of containers in the port.