Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
- Data extracted in July 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update: December 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 2016. Please note that the quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revisions.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
Main statistical findings
At close to 950 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports decreased 0.9 % compared to the previous quarter. Compared with the 4th quarter of 2015, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased 1.4 % in the 4th quarter of 2016. The overall annual growth showed little change in EU port activity in terms of the gross weight of goods handled compared to 2015 (Figure 1 and Table 1).
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 2016 were still lower than the volumes handled before the start of the economic downturn in Europe.
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
Inwards movements of goods made up close to 60% of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2016, about the same as in previous quarters. Compared with the 4th quarter of 2015, inwards movements of goods to the main EU ports increased 1.4% in the 4th quarter of 2016, and outwards movements increased 1.3% (Table 2).
The 4th quarter of 2016 saw increases in the volumes of dry bulk goods handled in the main EU ports, while the volumes of liquid bulk goods plus the tonnages of goods transported in containers and on roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units saw decreases compared with the previous quarter. In relative terms, the tonnages of liquid bulk goods decreased the most (-2.6 %), followed by containerised goods (-1.4 %) and the gross weight of goods transported on Ro-Ro units (-0.8 %). In contrast, the tonnages of dry bulk goods (+1.5 %) and other general cargo (+3.4 %) increased in the same period. Compared with the corresponding quarter of 2015, almost all categories recorded increases with the largest rises for large containers and other general cargo, except for liquid bulk that recorded minor decrease. For dry bulk goods, tonnages handled in 2016 were 2.6% lower than in 2015 (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 2016, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy recorded an increase in main port activity in the 4th quarter of 2016, while the handling of goods in the main UK ports fell (Table 4).
Overall, seven 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 sixteen reported growth. In relative terms, the largest decreases were recorded in Malta (-18.3 %), Estonia (-11.3 %) and Cyprus (-10.6 %). Croatia and Romania, on the other hand, both reported increases in main port activity of more than 15 % in this period.
The main seaborne transport partners
At close to 640 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports increased by 0.5 % from the previous quarter. Deep sea shipping tonnages saw decrease of 4 % to 286 million tonnes. Between the same periods, international extra-EU transport by sea decreased by 1.7%, due to decreases in seaborne transport with the American continents, Africa and Asia & Oceania. In contrast, seaborne transport between ports in European countries outside the EU increased by 3.5 % from the previous quarter. It should be noted that these figures may be 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 4th quarter of 2016, followed by the United States of America (USA), Norway, China, Turkey and Brazil (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 the Black Sea (Table 7).
Compared with the previous quarter, there were noticeable decreases in inwards movements of large containers from China, as well as in inwards movements of crude oil from Egypt. Inward movements of crude oil from Norway also declined. In contrast, the 4th quarter 2016 saw substantial increases in inwards movements of coal from Australia, crude oil from Iraq as well as in movements of crude oil from Russian ports on the Baltic and the Black Sea. Outwards movement of containers to China and the East coast of the United States of America increased in the same period (Table 7).
Top European ports
Four of the EU’s top 5 ports saw increases in port freight activity in the 4th quarter of 2016 compared with the same quarter of the previous year, except Hamburg in Germany. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, recorded an increase of 0.7 % in the total gross weight of goods handled in this period, while Amsterdam in the Netherlands registered an increase of 10.5 %. In both cases, Rotterdam and Amsterdam saw a decline in the gross weight of goods handled comparing 2016 and 2015 of -1.1% and -2.5% respectively (Table 8).
With the exception of Ro-Ro mobile units, Rotterdam was the largest European port for all other types of cargo in the 4th quarter of 2016. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Rotterdam saw decrease in the tonnes of liquid and dry bulk goods (-0.8 % and -4.5 % respectively). On the other hand, Rotterdam saw increases in the tonnes of other general cargo (+13.2 %) and in the tonnes of containerised goods (+6.1 %). In comparison, Europe’s second largest port, Antwerpen, recorded increases in the tonnes of containerised goods (+7.7 %) between the same periods (Tables 9-13).
Among other ports, Botas in Turkey saw a decrease in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (-5.6 %) compared with the 4th quarter of 2015, while the Turkish port of Iskenderun, Hatay recorded an increase in the tonnes of dry bulk goods (+8 %). In comparison, Amsterdam, Izmit and Zeeland Seaports recorded substantial decreases in the tonnes of other general cargo in this period (-37.2 %, -20 % and -9.4 %, respectively).
In the container cargo segment, all of the EU’s top 5 ports recorded increases in the tonnes of containerised goods compared with 4th quarter of 2015. Rotterdam, Antwerpen and Hamburg saw increases in the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled in the same period (Tables 11 and 14).
Dover in the UK remained Europe’s largest Ro-Ro port in the 4th quarter of 2016, recording a slight increase of 0.1 % in the tonnes of goods handled on Ro-Ro units compared with the same quarter of the previous year. On the other side of the Channel, the port of Calais in France recorded an increase of 3.5 % in the gross weight of goods on Ro-Ro units. Among the other top Ro-Ro ports, Dublin in Ireland recorded increase in tonnes of goods handled on Ro-Ro units in this period (+7 %), while the port of Immingham in the UK and Zeebrugge in Belgium recorded a decrease of 9.5 % and 0.6 % respectively in Ro-Ro tonnages (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.
The “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.
|Nes||Not elsewhere specified|
|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 of 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 1 shows the percentage change for the four quarters ending in the 4th quarter of 2016 compared to the four quarters ending in the 4th 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 2016:
- The quarterly data for port activity in France have been partially estimated by Eurostat for the period 2009 Q1-2016 Q1. These data are to be considered as provisional and are likely to be revised. In general, such estimates reduce the accuracy of the statistics at detailed levels.
- 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