Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
- Data extracted in December 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update: April 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 1st quarter of 2016 and a first estimate for the 2nd 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 932 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports decreased 0.8 % in the 1st quarter of 2016, compared with both the previous quarter and with the 1st quarter of 2015. This point to the start of 2016 marking an end to the gradual recovery in EU port activity observed since the economic downturn at the end of 2008. Even so, the rolling four quarter total ending in the 1st quarter of 2016 still showed a modest increase in EU port activity of 0.6 % compared to the gross weight of goods handled in the previous four quarters (Figure 1 and Table 1).
The first estimate for the EU port freight activity in the 2nd quarter of 2016 strengthens the assumption of a flat trend. At around 944 million tonnes, the first estimate indicates a decrease of 0.9 % in the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports compared with the 2nd quarter of 2015. Compared with the previous quarter, however, the first estimate shows an increase of 1.3 %, which is in line with the expected seasonal variation in EU port activity. The result is that the estimated rolling four quarter total ending in the 2nd quarter of 2016 shows little change compared to the observed port activity level for the previous four quarters (Figure 2).
All in all, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports in both the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2016 was still lower than the volumes handled before the start of the economic downturn in Europe in the 4th quarter of 2008 (as exemplified by the 960 million tonnes handled in the 1st quarter of 2008 and the 989 million tonnes handled in the 2nd 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 1st quarter of 2016, about the same as in previous quarters. Compared with the previous quarter, inwards movements of goods to the main EU ports decreased 0.6 % in the 1st quarter of 2016, while outwards movements of goods decreased by 1.0 % (Table 2).
The 1st quarter of 2016 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 tonnes of dry bulk goods decreased the most (-5.3 %), followed by goods transported on Ro-Ro mobile units (-1.1 %) and liquid bulk goods (-0.9 %). In contrast, the tonnage of other general cargo (+12.3 %) and containerised goods (+1.1 %) increased between the same two quarters (Table 3).
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Spain were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 1st quarter of 2016, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Spain recorded an increase in main port activity in the 1st quarter of 2016, while the handling of goods in the main UK ports and Dutch ports fell. The gross weight of goods handled in the main Italian ports was the same in the 1st quarter of 2016 as in the 1st quarter of 2015 (Table 4).
All in all, thirteen of the maritime EU member states reported decreases in the tonnes of goods handled in their main ports compared with the same quarter of the previous year, while ten of the maritime member states reported growth or unchanged volumes. In relative terms, the largest decreases were recorded in Latvia (-14 %), Bulgaria (-10.5 %) and Estonia (-9.4 %). Malta, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia, on the other hand, all reported increases in main port activity of more than 10 % in this period.
The main seaborne transport partners
At 284 million tonnes, Deep sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports recorded a decrease of 3.7% from the previous quarter, but short sea shipping tonnages increased by 0.9 % to 623 million tonnes. In the same period, international extra-EU transport by sea decreased by 2.8 %, mainly due to decreases in seaborne transport to and from ports on the African and American continents. In contrast, seaborne transport between the main EU ports and ports in Asia and Oceania increased by 3 % from the previous quarter. It should be noted that these figures may be somewhat influenced by variations in the level of transport reported with unknown partner geographical zones (Table 5).
In terms of the total gross weight of goods, Russia was the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the 1st quarter of 2016, followed by the United States of America (USA), China, Norway, Turkey, Brazil and Egypt (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 crude oil from the Baltic ports of Russia to the main EU ports, as well as in inwards movements of crude oil from Egypt, ores from Brazil and crude oil from Nigeria. In contrast, the 1st quarter of 2016 saw increases in inwards movements of crude oil from the Black Sea ports and oil products from the Baltic ports of Russia, as well as in transport of large containers to and from China and in outwards movements of oil products to Singapore (Table 7).
Top European ports
Three of the EU’s top 5 ports in the 1st quarter of 2016 saw decreases in overall port activity compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, recorded a decrease of 0.4 % in the total gross weight of goods handled in this period, while Amsterdam in the Netherlands saw a decrease of 14.5 % and Hamburg in Germany saw a decrease of 2.5 %. In contrast, Antwerpen in Belgium and Algeciras in Spain recorded increases of 5.3 % and 8.9 %, respectively (Table 8).
Rotterdam was the major European port for most types of cargo in the 1st quarter of 2016, the exception being Ro-Ro mobile units. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Rotterdam saw increases in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (+2.2 %) and other general cargo (+11.9 %), while the tonnes of dry bulk goods (-6.3 %) and containerised goods (-2.5 %) fell. In comparison, Europe’s second largest port, Antwerpen, recorded increases in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (+13.2 %), containerised goods (+3.5 %) and other general cargo (+6.8 %) in the same period. (Tables 9-13).
Among other ports, Botas in Turkey saw a substantial increase in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (+12.1 %) compared with the 1st quarter of 2015, while the port of Iskenderun, Hatay in Turkey recorded an increase in the tonnes of dry bulk goods (+11.9 %). In contrast, both Amsterdam and Hamburg recorded decreases in the tonnes of dry bulk goods in this period (-12.5 % and -4.4 %, respectively).
In the container cargo segment, Hamburg saw slight decreases in both the tonnes of containerised goods and number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled compared with 1st quarter of 2015, while Algeciras in Spain recorded substantial increases in both these areas in the same period (Tables 11 and 14).
Dover in the UK remained Europe’s largest Ro-Ro port in the 1st quarter of 2016, despite recording a 7 % fall in the tonnes of goods handled on Ro-Ro units compared with the same quarter of the previous year. In the other end of the Channel, the port of Calais in France recorded a 9.1 % fall in Ro-Ro tonnages handled, confirming the substantial decrease in cross-Channel transport compared with the 1st quarter of 2015. The ports of Immingham in the UK and Zeebrugge in Belgium, on the other hand, both recorded increases in tonnes of goods handled on Ro-Ro units 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 2nd quarter of 2016 compared to the four quarters ending in the 2nd 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 1st quarter 2016:
- 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.
- The quarterly data for port activity in France have been partially estimated by Eurostat for the period 2009 Q1-2016 Q1. 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