Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
- Data extracted in June 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update: October 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 3rd quarter of 2016 and a first estimate 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 960 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports increased 1.8 % compared to the previous quarter. Compared with the 3rd quarter of 2015, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased 2 % in the 3rd quarter of 2016. The rolling four quarter total ending in the 3rd quarter of 2016 showed little change in EU port activity in terms of the gross weight of goods handled compared to the previous four quarters (Figure 1 and Table 1).
The first estimate for the 4th quarter of 2016 indicates that growth in EU port activity may have resumed in the second half of the year. At a little over 950 million tonnes, the first estimate indicates an increase of 1.3 % in the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports compared with the 4th quarter of 2015, despite a decrease of 0.9 % compared with the previous quarter. In consequence, the annual aggregate for 2016 is indicating quite a modest increase in EU port freight activity compared with 2015 (Figure 2).
Even so, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports in both the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2016 was 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 3rd quarter of 2016, about the same as in previous quarters. Compared with the 3rd quarter of 2015, inwards movements of goods to the main EU ports increased 1.3 % in the 3rd quarter of 2016, and outwards movements increased 3.2 % (Table 2).
The 3rd quarter of 2016 saw increases in the volumes of liquid and dry bulk goods handled in the main EU ports, while 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 gross weight of goods transported on Ro-Ro units decreased the most (-7.1 %), followed by containerised goods (-2.6 %). In contrast, the tonnages of dry bulk goods (+6.4 %), liquid bulk goods (+4.8 %) and other general cargo (+2.9 %) increased in the same period. Compared with the corresponding quarter of 2015, all categories recorded increases with the largest rises for large containers and other general cargo (Table 3).
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Spain were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 3rd 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 and Italy recorded an increase in main port activity in the 3rd quarter of 2016, while the handling of goods in the main UK and Spanish ports fell (Table 4).
Overall, six 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 seventeen reported growth. In relative terms, the largest decreases were recorded in Croatia (-12.5 %), Latvia (-8.2 %) and Malta (-2.6 %). Cyprus and Bulgaria, 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 638 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports increased by 1.1 % from the previous quarter. Deep sea shipping tonnages saw increase of 5.3 % to 298 million tonnes. Between the same periods, international extra-EU transport by sea increased by 2.8 %, due to increases in seaborne transport with the American continents and Asia & Oceania. In contrast, seaborne transport between the main EU ports and ports in European countries outside the EU decreased by 0.5 % 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 3rd quarter of 2016, 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 the Black Sea (Table 7).
Compared with the previous quarter, there were noticable decreases in inwards movements of oil products from the Baltic Sea ports of Russia to the main EU ports, as well as in inwards movements of coal from the Baltic Sea ports of Russia. Inward movements of crude oil from Turkey also declined. In contrast, the 3rd quarter 2016 saw substantial increases in inwards movements of coal from the North coast of Columbia, crude oil from Egypt and Norway, in transport of containers from China, as well as in movements of crude oil from Iran. Outwards movement of containers to China and the East coast of the United States of America decreased, while outwards movement of oil products to Singapore and the East coast of the United States of America increased in the same period (Table 7).
Top European ports
All of the EU’s top 5 ports saw increases in port freight activity in the 3rd quarter of 2016 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, recorded an increase of 1.5 % in the total gross weight of goods handled in this period, while Antwerpen in Belgium saw an increase of 5.8 % and Amsterdam in the Netherlands registered an increase of 5.1 % (Table 8).
With the exception of Ro-Ro mobile units, Rotterdam was the largest European port for all other types of cargo in the 3rd quarter of 2016. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Rotterdam saw decrease in the tonnes of containerised goods (-0.1 %). On the other hand, Rotterdam saw increases in the tonnes of other general cargo (+4.6 %), liquid bulk goods (+2.4 %), and dry bulk goods (+0.6 %). In comparison, Europe’s second largest port, Antwerpen, recorded increases in the tonnes of other general cargo (+10.9 %), containerised goods (+9.7 %) and liquid bulk goods (+1.6 %) between the same periods (Tables 9-13).
Among other ports, Botas in Turkey saw a decrease in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (-4.3 %) compared with the 3rd quarter of 2015, while the Turkish port of Iskenderun, Hatay recorded a substantial increase in the tonnes of dry bulk goods (+17 %). In comparison, Amsterdam, Zeeland Seaports and Izmit recorded substantial decreases in the tonnes of other general cargo in this period (-23.5 %, -17.3 % and -13.5 %, respectively).
In the container cargo segment, Antwerpen and Hamburg, as well as the Spanish port of Algeciras and the German port of Bremerhaven, all recorded increases in the tonnes of containerised goods compared with 3rd quarter of 2015, while 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 3rd quarter of 2016, recording a slight decrease of 0.5 % 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 3.6 % in the gross weight of goods on Ro-Ro units. Among the other top Ro-Ro ports, Dublin in Ireland and Immingham in the UK both recorded increases in tonnes of goods handled on Ro-Ro units in this period (+6.6 % and +0.2 %, respectively), while the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium recorded a decrease of 3.6 % 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 3rd quarter of 2016 compared to the four quarters ending in the 3rd 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 3rd 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. 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