Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
Data extracted in July 2018
Planned article update: September 2019
977 million tonnes of goods were handled in the main EU ports in the 3rd quarter of 2017.
Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU-28 main ports
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 2017. Please note that the quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revisions.
EU ports activity
At 977 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports decreased 0.8 % compared with the previous quarter. Compared with the 3rd quarter of 2016, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased 2.5 % in the 3rd quarter of 2017. The rolling four quarter total ending in the 3rd quarter of 2017 showed little change in EU port activity in terms of the gross weight of goods handled compared with the previous four quarters (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 3rd quarter 2017 were still lower than the volumes handled before the start of the economic downturn in Europe.
EU ports activity by direction, type of cargo and reporting country
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 2017, about the same as in previous quarters. Compared with the 3rd quarter of 2016, inwards movements of goods to the main EU ports increased 2.3% in the 3rd quarter of 2017, and outwards movements increased 2.9% (Table 2).
Compared with the previous quarter, the 3rd quarter of 2017 saw decrease of 11 % in the volumes of other general cargo, roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units (-6.2 %) and for volume of containerised goods (-2.6 %) handled in the main EU ports, while the tonnages of liquid bulk goods and dry bulk goods saw increases compared with the previous quarter (+1.9 % and +2.4 %, respectively).
Compared with the corresponding quarter of 2016, almost all categories recorded increases with the largest rises for containerised goods and Ro-Ro units, except on liquid bulk goods that recorded minor decrease (Table 3).
The Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 3rd quarter of 2017, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, only Spain and Italy recorded an increase in main port activity in the 3rd quarter 2017 (+14.6 % and +4.9 %, respectively), while the United Kingdom and the Netherlands saw decreases (-1.8% and -1 %, respectively) (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 sixteen reported growth. In relative terms, the largest decreases were recorded in Estonia (-8.7 %) and Latvia (-8.3 %). Croatia and Lithuania, on the other hand, both reported increases in main port activity of more than 17 % in this period.
The main seaborne transport partners
At 636 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports decreased by 2.1 % from the previous quarter. Deep sea shipping tonnages saw increase of 1.5 %, at 309 million tonnes. Between the same periods, international extra-EU transport by sea decreased by 1.6%, due to decreases in seaborne transport with Asia and Oceania and also with Africa. 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 2017, followed by the United States of America (USA), Norway, Brazil, China 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 noticeable decreases in inwards movements of oil products from the Russian ports on the Baltic Sea as well as in inwards movements of crude oil from Egypt. Inwards movements of crude oil from the Russian ports on the Baltic Sea also declined. In contrast, the 3rd quarter 2017 saw substantial increases in inwards movements of crude oil from Libya, as well as in inwards movements of ores from the East Coast of Canada. Outwards movements of containers to China decrease; in contrast outwards movements of containers to the East coast of the United States of America increased in the same period.
Top European ports
Two of the EU’s top 5 ports saw increases in port freight activity in the 3rd quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, recorded a decrease of 2.3 % in the total gross weight of goods handled in this period, while Algeciras in Spain registered an increase of 4.9 % (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 2017. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, Rotterdam saw increase in the tonnes of containerised goods (+16.6 %), while Rotterdam saw decreases in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (-9.5 %), in the tonnes of other general cargo (-8.5 %) and in the tonnes of dry bulk goods (-5.9 %). In comparison, Europe’s second largest port, Antwerpen, recorded increase in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (+5.5 %) within the same periods (Tables 9-13).
Among other ports, Botas in Turkey saw an increase in the tonnes of liquid bulk goods (+4.9 %) compared with the 3rd quarter of 2016, and the Turkish port of Iskenderun, Hatay recorded a significant increase in the tonnes of dry bulk goods (+31.8 %). In comparison, Immingham recorded a noticeable increase in the gross weight of goods transported on Ro-Ro units and a slight increase was recorded for Constanta in Romania in the tonnes of dry bulk goods during the same period (+11.8 % and +1.5 %, respectively).
In the container cargo segment, three of the EU’s top 5 ports recorded increases in the tonnes of containerised goods compared with 3rd quarter of 2016. These three ports saw increases in the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled in the same period (Tables 11 and 14).
Dover in the United Kingdom remained Europe’s largest Ro-Ro port in the 3rd quarter of 2017, despite a decrease of 2.7 % 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 saw an increase in terms of the gross weight of goods on Ro-Ro units compared with the same quarter of the previous year (+3.2 %). Among the other top Ro-Ro ports, Dublin in Ireland and Zeebrugge in Belgium recorded increases in tonnes of goods handled on Ro-Ro units in this period (+5.8 % and +2.3 %, respectively) in Ro-Ro tonnages (Table 12).
Source data for tables and graphs
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. However, EU-28 aggregates exceptionally exclude Cyprus as quarterly data for reference period 2017 are not available (see specific remarks below). Norway and Iceland provide Eurostat with data as members of the European Economic Area (EEA). However, quarterly data are currently not available for Iceland. 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 partner ports situated in geographical Europe, on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. “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 United States of America 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 2017 compared with the four quarters ending in the 3rd quarter of 2016.
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 non-rounded original data, as available in Eurostat's database.
Specific remarks for this publication for data up to and including the 3rd quarter 2017:
- The quarterly data for port activity in France have been partially estimated by Eurostat for the period 2009 Q1-2016 Q2. 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.
- The data for Cyprus are not available for all quarters of 2017 and thus data for this country are not included in the EU-28 aggregates for the whole period considered in this publication in order to ensure coherence in the time series.
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.
- 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)
The basic legal act (Directive 2009/42/EC) was amended by:
- Commission Decision 2010/216/EU of the EP and of the Council of 14 April 2010, OJ L 94, 15.4.2010, p. 33-40
- Regulation (EU) 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: