Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
- Data extracted in September 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update: January 2017
This article presents the main results from quarterly statistics on maritime transport of goods in the European Union (EU), plus figures for Norway and Turkey. It covers the gross weight of goods handled in the main European ports, by type of cargo, direction, reporting country and various partner maritime geographical areas. These data are complemented by maritime transport flows with the main extra-EU partners, and with individual results for the major European ports.
The article contains data for the 4th quarter of 2015 and a first estimate for the 1st quarter of 2016. Please note that:
- The quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revisions.
- The quarterly data for French ports in this article have been partially estimated by Eurostat.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
Main statistical findings
At close to 940 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports decreased 0.7 % in the 4th quarter of 2015 compared with the previous quarter. Compared with the 4th quarter of 2014 however, the main EU ports recorded a slight increase of 0.2% in the gross weight of goods handled, thereby maintaining the year-on-year growth trend observed in all quarter of 2015. When adding up the figures for the four quarters of 2015, the provisional statistics show an overall annual growth in EU main port activity of 1.8 % compared with the four quarters of 2014 (Figure 1 and Table 1).
In contrast, the first estimate for EU main port activity in the 1st quarter of 2016 may imply that the year-on-year growth trend halted at the start of this year. At around 930 million tonnes, the first estimate indicates a decrease of 1.1 % in the gross weight of goods handled in main EU ports compared with the previous quarter and a decrease of 1.5 % in the gross weight of goods compared with the 1st quarter of 2015. Even so, the rolling four quarter estimate ending in the 1st quarter of 2016 indicates an annual growth of 0.5 % in EU main port activity compared with the four quarters ending in the 1st quarter of 2015 (Figure 2).
Regardless of the continued underlying growth trend observed since the 2nd quarter of 2013, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports in both the 4th quarter of 2015 and the 1st quarter of 2016 were still lower than the volumes handled before the start of the economic downturn in Europe (as exemplified by the 971 million tonnes handled in the 4th quarter of 2007 and the 960 million tonnes handled in the 1st quarter of 2008).
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
Inwards movements of goods made up just above 59 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2015, about the same share as in previous quarters. Compared with the previous quarter, inwards movements to the main EU ports decreased 1.9 % in the 4th quarter of 2015, while outwards movements of goods increased by 1.2 % (Table 2).
The 4th quarter of 2015 saw decreases in the volumes of most types of cargo handled in the main EU ports compared with the previous quarter. In percentage terms, the tonnages of Ro-Ro mobile units decreased by 1.7 %, dry bulk goods by 0.8 %, liquid bulk goods by 0.7 % and containerised goods by 0.3 %. In contrast, the tonnages of other general cargo increased by 1.5 % (Table 3).
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Spain and Italy were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 4th quarter of 2015, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands recorded increases in main port activity in the 4th quarter of 2015, while the handling of goods in the main UK ports fell by 1.5 % (Table 4).
All in all, ten of the maritime EU member states reported decreases in the tonnages of goods handled in their main ports compared with the same quarter of the previous year, while thirteen of the maritime member states reported growth. In relative terms, the largest decreases were recorded in Estonia (-23.9 %), Bulgaria (-15.8 %) and Romania (-15.2 %). Cyprus and Malta, on the other hand, both reported increases in main port activity of more than 10 % in this period.
The main seaborne transport partners
At 296 million tonnes, Deep sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports remained stable compared to the previous quarter, while short sea shipping tonnages decreased by 1.2 % to 630 million tonnes. In the same period, international extra-EU transport by sea increased by 1 %, mainly due to increases in seaborne transport to and from Africa. In contrast, seaborne transport between the main EU ports and ports on the American continent decreased by 5 % from the previous quarter. It should be noted that these figures may be somewhat influenced by variations in the transport reported to and from unknown geographical zones (Table 5).
In terms of total gross weight of goods, Russia was the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the 4th quarter of 2015, followed by the United States of America (USA), Norway, China, Brazil and Turkey (Table 6). A substantial share of the seaborne transport with Russia is made up of imports of liquid bulk goods to the main EU ports, particularly crude oil and oil products from Russian ports on the Baltic and Black Sea (Table 7).
Compared with the previous quarter, there were substantial decreases in inwards movements of containers from China to the main EU ports, as well as in inwards movements of ores from Brazil, crude oil from Norway and oil products from the East Coast of the USA. In contrast, the 4th quarter of 2015 saw considerable increases in inwards movements of crude oil from Algeria, Nigeria and the Baltic Sea ports of Russia, as well as in outwards movements of containers to the East coast of the USA (Table 7).
Top European ports
Three of the top 5 ports in the reporting countries recorded increases in port activity in the 4th quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, saw an increase of 3.6 % in the tonnages of goods handled in this period, while the ports of Antwerpen in Belgium and Botas in Turkey recorded increases of 5.3 % and 29.9 %, respectively. In contrast, the port of Hamburg in Germany recorded a decrease in gross weight of goods handled of 5.9 %, while Amsterdam in the Netherlands saw a decrease in total tonnages of 4.5 % compared with the 4th quarter of 2014 (Table 8).
Rotterdam was the major European port for most types of cargo in the 4th quarter of 2015, the exception being Ro-Ro mobile units. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Rotterdam saw increases in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods (+9.1 %), dry bulk goods (+7.4 %) and other general cargo (1.7 %), while the tonnages of containerised goods fell (-6.8 %). In comparison, Europe’s second largest port, Antwerpen, recorded increases in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods (+4.7 %), containerised goods (+5.7 %) and other general cargo (+7 %) in the same period (Tables 9-13).
Among other ports, Milford Haven in the UK and Botas in Turkey saw substantial increases in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods compared with the 4th quarter of 2014 (+34.6 % and +31.4 %, respectively). In the same period, the ports of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Riga in Latvia both recorded decreases in the tonnages of dry bulk goods (-2.4 % and -5.1 %, respectively). In the container cargo segment, the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven in Germany saw decreases in both the tonnages and number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled compared with 4th quarter of 2014, while Algeciras in Spain saw increases for both measures compared to the corresponding quarter in 2014 (Tables 11 and 14).
Dover in the UK remained Europe’s largest Ro-Ro port by handling 6.6 million tonnes of goods on Ro-Ro mobile units in the 4th quarter of 2015, a decrease of 1.2 % compared with the same of the previous year. In comparison, the ports of Immingham in the UK, Calais in France, Zeebrugge in Belgium and Dublin in Ireland all recorded increases in Ro-Ro tonnages in the same period (Table 12).
Data sources and availability
The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive 2009/42/EC on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea.
EU-28 aggregates refer to the total of 23 maritime Member States. The Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no maritime ports. Norway and Iceland provide Eurostat with data as members of the European Economic Area (EEA). However, for Iceland quarterly data are currently not available. The EEA country Liechtenstein has no maritime ports. Turkey provides data on a voluntary basis as a candidate country.
“Main ports” are ports handling more than 1 million tonnes of goods annually (however, data for some smaller ports may be included in the published results). Data are presented at level of “statistical ports”. A statistical port consists of one or more ports, normally controlled by a single port authority, able to record ship and cargo movements.
All tables are based on ports total (inward + outward) declarations. The results represent the "handling" of goods in ports.
“Short sea shipping” aggregate (in Table 5) includes the partner ports situated in geographical Europe, on the Mediterranean and Black Seas. “Deep sea shipping” is the complementary geographical aggregate. A more extensive definition of “short sea shipping” is available in the article Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods.
The concept of maritime transport trade (in Table 7) is defined using the following three variables:
- Direction: “inward” transport is distinguished from “outward” transport.
- Partner geographical area: usually this corresponds to one country, with the exception of countries of such a size and/or geographical position that the location of individual ports may be quite different and may have a strong impact on the maritime route followed. For example, the ports of the USA are grouped in two geographical areas: "East coast" (including Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Puerto Rico) and "West coast" (Pacific).
- Type of cargo: the following thirteen cargo types are used in Table 8: liquefied gas, crude oil, oil products, other liquid bulk goods, ores, coal, agricultural products, other dry bulk goods, large containers, Ro-Ro mobile units, forestry products, iron/steel products and other general cargo. The first four types constitute "liquid bulk", the subsequent four types "dry bulk", and the last three types "other general cargo not elsewhere specified", as presented in Tables 3 and 9 to 13.
- ":" not available
- "-" not applicable
- Mio million
- Nes not elsewhere specified
- Ro-Ro Roll-on/roll-off
- TEU Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit
Quarterly data are in general provisional. Revisions may be made by countries as more complete information becomes available or as a result of quality checks. More specifically, when the complete set of annual data emerges, this usually involves some revision to quarterly data for some countries. This applies particularly to the quarterly estimates of port traffic by type of cargo, which are less robust than the annual totals.
Annual data as presented in this publication are the “rolling” four quarter totals, ending in the latest quarter and the corresponding four quarters for earlier years. As a result, the four quarters included do not necessarily come from the same calendar year. For example, the ‘Annual’ growth rate in Figure 2 shows the percentage change for the four quarters ending in the 1st quarter of 2016 compared to the four quarters ending in the 1st quarter of 2015.
The basic results (in million tonnes; in thousand TEUs) and the derived indicators (growth rates) shown in the tables are rounded. However they are all based on the non-rounded original data, as available in Eurostat's database.
Specific remarks for this publication for data up to and including the 4th quarter 2015:
- A first estimate for the following quarter is included in Figure 2 in this publication. The first estimate is based on data provided by the reporting countries in the same way as the ordinary maritime transport statistics. However, the quality checks on the underlying data have yet to be completed for all countries. Thus, the estimated figures may be subject to a higher level of revision than the statistics for the other quarters in this publication.
- Turkish port data for 2015 Q3 were not available at the time of publication of this article.
- The quarterly data for port activity in France have been partially estimated by Eurostat for the period 2009 Q1-2015 Q4. They are to be considered as provisional and are likely to be revised. In general, these estimates reduce the accuracy of the statistics at the detailed level.
- The quarterly figures for the port of Amsterdam include data for the ports of Velsen and Ijmuiden.
- Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for Germany include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).
- Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for Sweden include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).
- Starting from 2011 Q1, the quarterly figures for Spain include data for a number of regional ports outside the state-controlled port system.
Due to revisions of the underlying data, figures in this article may differ from figures currently or previously available on Eurostat's web site.
The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea), which is a recast of the original Council Directive 95/64/EC of 8 December 1995.
The basic legal act (Directive 2009/42/EC) was amended by:
- Commission Decision 2010/216/EC of the EP and of the Council of 14 April 2010, OJ L 94, 15.4.2010, p. 33-40
- Regulation (EC) No 1090/2010 of the EP and of the Council of 24 November 2010, OJ L 325, 9.12.2010, p. 1-3
- Commission Delegated Decision 2012/186/EU of 3 February 2012 OJ L 101 of 11.4.2012 pp. 5-14.
The following legal acts include respectively the last official version of the list of ports and some dissemination aspects:
- Commission Decision 2001/423/EC of 22 May 2001 (on dissemination) OJ L 151 of 07.06.2001 p. 41
- Commission Decision 2008/861/EC of 29 October 2008 (codified version) (Port list), OJ L 306, 15.11.2008, p. 66-97
- Freight transport statistics
- Freight transport statistics - modal split
- Maritime ports freight and passenger statistics
- Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods
- Passenger transport statistics
Further Eurostat information
- Transport, see:
- Maritime transport (mar)
- Maritime transport - main annual results (mar_m)
- Maritime transport - short sea shipping - main annual results (mar_s)
- Maritime transport - passengers (mar_pa)
- Maritime transport - goods (mar_go)
- Maritime transport - vessel traffic (mar_tf)
- Maritime transport - regional statistics (mar_rg)
Methodology / Metadata
- Maritime transport (ESMS metadata file — mar_esms)
- Reference Manual on Maritime Transport Statistics
- E3 Transport