Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
- Data extracted in June 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update: October 2016
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 2015 and a first estimate for the 4th quarter of 2015. 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 938 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports decreased by 1 % in the 3rd quarter of 2015 compared with the previous quarter. In contrast, main port activity in the EU increased by 0.8 % compared with the 3rd quarter of 2014. When adding up the figures for the four quarters ending in the 3rd quarter of 2015, the statistics show a rolling four-quarter growth in EU main port activity of 2.1 % compared with the previous four quarters (Figure 1 and Table 1).
In the seasonal pattern observed prior to the start of the economic downturn in Europe in the 4th quarter of 2008, a decrease in port activity from the 2nd to the 3rd quarter of a year would be expected, followed by a slightly larger increase between the 3rd and 4th quarter establishing a long term growth trend. However, the first estimate for the 4th quarter of 2015 indicates that the underlying growth in EU main port activity observed since the 3rd quarter of 2013 may be coming to an end.
At 933.5 million tonnes, the first estimate indicates a decrease of 0.5 % in the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports both compared with the previous quarter and with the 4th quarter of 2014. On the other hand, the annual aggregate for the four quarters of 2015 is still estimated to grow by 1 % compared with the four quarters of 2014 (Figure 2).
Even so, the gross weight of goods handled in main EU-28 ports in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2015 was still lower than the volumes handled before the start of the economic downturn (as exemplified by the 962.7 million tonnes and 971.4 million tonnes handled in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2007, respectively).
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
Inwards movements of goods made up more than 60 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 3rd quarter of 2015, about the same as in previous quarters. Compared with the previous quarter, inwards movements of goods increased 1.6 % in the 3rd quarter of 2015. In contrast, a substantial decrease (-4.7 %) was recorded in outwards movements of goods from the main EU ports in the same period (Table 2).
Except for ‘Liquid bulk goods’, the 3rd quarter of 2015 saw decreases in the volumes of all types of cargo handled in the main EU ports compared with the previous quarter. In percentage terms, the tonnages of other general cargo decreased by 13.2 %, Ro-Ro mobile units by 3.7 %, containerised goods by 2.1 % and dry bulk goods by 0.9 %. In comparison, the liquid bulk tonnages increased by 2.6 % (Table 3).
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Spain and Italy were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 3rd 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, both Spain and the Netherlands recorded increases in main port activity in the 3rd quarter of 2015, while the handling of goods in the main UK and Italian ports was little changed from the level observed one year earlier (Table 4).
All in all, twelve 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 eleven of the maritime member states reported growth. In relative terms, the largest decreases were recorded in Estonia (-23.3 %), Malta (-9.4 %) and Latvia (-6.7 %). In contrast, Croatia, Lithuania and Denmark all reported increases in main port activity of more than 10 %.
The main extra-EU partners
Deep sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports decreased 2.2 % between the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2015, while short sea shipping tonnages decreased 0.8 %. Within short sea shipping, however, a rise in international intra-EU transport was partly offset by fall in national maritime transport in this period. Even so, the underlying trend in intra-EU transport was positive in the 3rd quarter of 2015, with both national maritime transport and international intra-EU transport showing growth compared with the same quarter of the previous year. International extra-EU transport, on the other hand, fell by 2.8 % in the same period (Table 5).
The decrease in deep sea shipping was due to a substantial decrease in seaborne transport to and from Africa, as well as decreases in transport with America and Asia & Oceania. In contrast, seaborne transport within the EU increased 3.8 % from the same quarter of the previous year. It should, however, be noted that these figures might be somewhat influenced by the substantial change in the level of the transport recorded with unknown geographical partner zones in this period.
In terms of total gross weight of goods, Russia was the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the 3rd quarter of 2015, followed by the USA, Norway, Brazil, China, Turkey 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 a substantial increase in inwards movements of containers from China to the main EU ports, as well as in inwards movements of oil products from the East Coast of the USA and crude oil from Egypt, Norway and Iraq. In contrast, the 3rd quarter of 2015 saw considerable decreases in outwards movements of containers to China and oil products to the East coast of the USA. Inwards movements of containers from the East coast of the USA to the main EU ports also fell by 10.2 % in the same period.
Top European ports
Four of the top 5 ports in Europe recorded increases in port activity in the 3rd quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, saw an increase of 0.5 % in the tonnages of goods handled in the 3rd quarter 2015 compared with the same quarter of the previous year (Table 8).
Similarly, the tonnages of goods handled in the ports of Antwerpen in Belgium, Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Algeciras in Spain also increased compared with the 3rd quarter of 2014. The exception was the port of Hamburg in Germany, which saw a decrease of 8.8 % in the total tonnages handled in this period. Compared with the previous quarter of 2015, however, all top 5 ports except for Algeciras recorded substantial decreases in port activity. Please note that the Eurostat figures for Amsterdam include data for the neighbouring ports of Velsen and Ijmuiden.
Rotterdam was the major European port for all but one type of cargo in the 3rd quarter of 2015, the exception being Ro-Ro mobile units (Tables 9-13). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Rotterdam saw increases in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods (+6.1 %) and dry bulk goods (+1.0 %), while the tonnages of containerised goods (-7.3 %) and other general cargo (-9.7 %) fell. Europe’s second largest port, Antwerpen, also saw a substantial increase in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods (+7.2 %).
Among other ports, the port of Le Havre in France recorded an increase in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods (+4.0 %) compared with the 3rd quarter of 2014, while the port of Marseille in France saw a decrease (-2.6 %). The ports of Constanta in Romania and Dunkerque in France both recorded substantial decreases in the tonnages of dry bulk goods (-11.5 % and -14.4 %, respectively). The ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven in Germany saw substantial decreases in the tonnages of containerised goods in the same period (-13.0 % and -9.2 %, respectively), while Algeciras saw a considerable increase (+13.9 %).
Dover in the UK remained the largest European Ro-Ro port, handling 6.6 million tonnes of goods on Ro-Ro mobile units in the 3rd quarter of 2015, a decrease of 8.4 % compared with the same of the previous year. In contrast, the ports of Immingham in the UK (+17.1 %), Zeebrugge in Belgium (+9.5 %) and Calais in France (+8.1 %) all recorded substantial increases in Ro-Ro tonnages in the same period.
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 1 shows the percentage change for the four quarters ending in the 3rd quarter of 2015 compared to the four quarters ending in the 3rd quarter of 2014.
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 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 Q3. 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