Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data


Data extracted in May 2020

Planned article update: September 2020

Highlights

880 million tonnes of goods were handled in the main EU ports in the 3rd quarter of 2019.

Rotterdam remains the largest EU port with 107 million tonnes of goods handled in the 3rd quarter of 2019.


Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU-27 main ports

This article presents the main results from quarterly statistics on maritime transport of goods in the European Union (EU), plus figures for the United Kingdom, Norway, Montenegro 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 regions . 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 2019. Please note that the quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revisions.


Full article


EU ports: activity

At 880 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-27 ports decreased by 3.9 % compared with the previous quarter. This decrease is contrary to the seasonal trend seen in recent years; there have been increases from the 2nd to the 3rd quarter in each of the last 3 years.

The gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports also decreased compared with the 3rd quarter of 2018, by 1.1 %. This is the first decrease in a quarter, when compared with the same quarter the previous year, since the 1st quarter of 2016 and, before that, since the 1st quarter of 2013.

After the steady recovery observed since the 2nd quarter of 2010 following the economic crisis, and the peak of activity reached in the 2nd quarter of 2019, maritime transport seems to be slowing down.

When looking at the overall annual change, an increase of 1.8 % was observed in EU port activity in terms of gross weight of goods handled compared with the previous period (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by direction, EU-27, 2007Q1-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_cwhd)

EU ports: activity by direction

The inward movement of goods made up close to 60 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the 3rd quarter of 2019. This is similar to the shares in previous quarters. However, it is almost 5 % less than the highest share, which was observed in the 4th quarter of 2007.

Compared with the 3rd quarter of 2018, the inward movement of goods to the main EU ports remained stable at 527 million tonnes in the 3rd quarter of 2019. Outward movements decreased by 2.8 % over the same period, falling to 353 million tonnes.

When looking at the rolling annual aggregate ending in the 1st quarter of 2019, the inward movement of goods is still lower than the volumes observed directly before the economic crisis in 2008 (2007Q4+2008Q1+Q2+Q3). By contrast, the outward movement of goods had fully recovered already in 2010-2011.

Figure 2: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, EU-27, 2007Q1-2019Q3
(% change rate on same quarter of previous year and 'annual' change rate)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

EU ports: activity by type of cargo

Compared with the corresponding quarter of 2018, dry bulk goods registered a large decrease of 6.0 %, leading to an overall annual change of -0.8 %. By contrast, the overall annual change was positive for all other categories, despite the decreases in tonnage of roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units (-2.2 %) and other general cargo (-1.0 %). Liquid bulk goods remained relatively stable (+0.3 %) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of cargo, EU-27, 2017Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_ewhk)

Port activity in the reporting countries

The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, as well as the United Kingdom, were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 3rd quarter of 2019, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports (Figure 4). Amongst these countries, only Spain recorded an increase in main port activity in the 3rd quarter of 2019 (+1.3 %) compared with the same quarter the previous year.

Figure 4: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, 2018Q3, 2019Q2 and 2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

Overall, nine of the maritime EU Member States reported an increase in the tonnes of goods handled in their main ports compared with the same quarter of the previous year, while 13 reported a fall. In relative terms, the largest increase was observed for Malta (+26.7 %). The main port activity in the candidate country Montenegro also increased substantially, by 14.6 %. Portugal, Latvia and Croatia, on the other hand, each reported a decrease in main port activity of more than 10 % in this period. The EFTA country Norway also reported a drop of 8.0 % (Table 1).

When looking at the overall annual change, only five EU Member States and the EFTA country Norway recorded decreases compared with the previous period. By contrast, Malta recorded a large increase in relative terms (+19.7 %).

Table 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, in selected quarters, 2017Q3-2019Q3
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

The main seaborne transport partners

It should be noted that the figures presented in this section may be influenced by variations in the level of transport reported with unknown partner region, which was, however, reduced by half in the data reported in 2019, compared with the previous year.

At 577 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports remained the same in the 3rd quarter of 2019 as in the same quarter in 2018. Deep sea shipping tonnages saw a small rise of 0.1 %, at 292 million tonnes (Figure 5). When looking at the overall annual change, both short sea shipping and deep sea shipping increased compared with the previous period (+3.4 % and +2.3 %, respectively).

Figure 5: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of shipping, EU-27, 2017Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

Between the same periods, international intra-EU transport decreased by 1.9 %, whereas national transport increased by 0.7 % and international extra-EU transport by 0.8 % (Figure 6). When looking at the overall annual change, all categories increased compared with the previous period (national: +6.0 %, international intra-EU: +1.6 % and international extra-EU: +3.0 %).

Figure 6: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of transport, EU-27, 2017Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_ewht)

The increase in international extra-EU transport in the 3rd quarter of 2019, compared with the same quarter of the previous year, was mainly due to the growth in seaborne transport with Africa (+8.8 %). 'Europe except the EU' (+0.7 %) was the only other partner region recording an increase. All other partner regions registered declines: with the EU (-1.1 %), America (-2.0 %), and 'Asia and Oceania' (-2.1 %) (Figure 7). When looking at the overall annual change, all partner regions recorded increases compared with the previous period, with the exception of 'Asia and Oceania' (-0.6 %). The highest increase was observed for Africa (+7.8 %), followed by 'Europe except the EU' (+3.6 %), EU (+3.0 %) and America (+2.1 %).

Figure 7: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by partner regions, EU-27, 2017Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

In terms of the total gross weight of goods, Russia was the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the 3rd quarter of 2019, followed by the United Kingdom, the United States of America (USA), Turkey, China, Norway, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria and Canada (Figure 8). EU transport with Russia represented 13 % of the total extra-EU maritime transport.

Among the top 10 extra-EU partner countries, maritime transport between EU and Brazil recorded the largest fall in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year (-11.4 %). EU maritime traffic with the United Kingdom and Norway also dropped significantly between the two periods (-5.4 % and -4.4 %, respectively).

When looking at the overall annual change, only transport with the United Kingdom and Brazil dropped compared with the previous period (-1.8 % and -9.2 %, respectively). The largest increase was observed for transport between the EU and Nigeria (+19.5 %). Most of the other countries also registered substantial growth. For example, EU transport with the United States increased by 12.6 % between the same periods.

Figure 8: Top 10 extra EU-27 partner countries in maritime transport, EU-27, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_ewhp)

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 Sea and the Black Sea (Figure 9). Even though Russia was the main partner of the EU in the 3rd quarter of 2019, the main maritime trade flow concerned imports of large containers from China. When looking at exports, large containers going to China were the second main maritime trade flow, only surpassed by exports of Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom.

The top 20 trade flows were largely dominated by imports of liquid bulk goods (crude oil and oil products), with the following exceptions: large containers from and to China, Ro-Ro mobile units from and to the United Kingdom, ores and agricultural products from Brazil, ores from the east coast of Canada, coal from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea and large containers from Turkey and to the east coast of the USA.

Figure 9: Top 20 extra EU-27 maritime trade flows, EU-27, 2018Q3, 2019Q2 and 2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, there were noticeable decreases in the inward movement of ores from Brazil (-32.7 %) and crude oil from Norway (-17.9 %) in the 3rd quarter of 2019. By contrast, large increases were observed in the inward movement of crude oil from Libya (+62.9 %), Nigeria (+34.1 %) and Turkey (+30.2 %), oil products from Russian ports on the Black Sea (+45.3 %) and the Baltic Sea (+27.7 %) and agricultural products from Brazil (+53.2 %), as well as in the outward movement of containers to China (+28.7 %) (Table 2).

When looking at the overall annual change, only six of the Top 20 maritime trade flows recorded a fall compared with the previous period. The most substantial drop was registered in the inward movement of ores from Brazil (-14.2 %).

Table 2: Top 20 extra EU-27 maritime trade flows, EU-27, in selected quarters, 2017Q3-2019Q3
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

Top European ports

Rotterdam was by far the largest European port in the 3rd quarter of 2019, with 107 million tonnes (Figure 10). Rotterdam was the main European port for all types of cargo, with the exception of Ro-Ro mobile units (Figures 11 to 16). The second main European port was Antwerpen , which handled close to half of the tonnage recorded by Rotterdam (53 million tonnes). The third port was Hamburg with 30 million tonnes. The second main Dutch port, Amsterdam, was in fourth position (25 million tonnes), while Algeciras was fifth with 22 million tonnes.

When looking at the overall annual change, Amsterdam registered the largest increase compared with the previous period (+5.9 %), followed by Hamburg (+3.7 %), Rotterdam (+2.1 %) and Antwerpen (+1.5 %). Algeciras remained relatively stable (+0.1 %).

It should be noted that Turkish ports are not included, as data are not available for the 3rd quarter of 2019.

Figure 10: Top 5 European maritime ports, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_pwh)

When looking at liquid bulk, Rotterdam and Antwerpen were the two main European ports in the 3rd quarter of 2019, followed by Amsterdam, Marseille and Trieste (Figure 11). The Italian port entered the top 5 European ports after a large increase of 31.3 % in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year, although the annual change rate compared with the previous period was negative (-2.3 %). Antwerpen also registered a negative annual change rate compared with the previous period (-4.3 %), while the other three ports recorded increases, with the most noticeable observed by Amsterdam (+6.8 %).

Figure 11: Top 5 European maritime ports for liquid bulk, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_pwhl)

When looking at dry bulk, Rotterdam and Amsterdam were the two main European ports in the 3rd quarter of 2019, followed by Constanta, Hamburg and Dunkerque (Figure 12). The French port remained in the top 5 European ports despite a large decrease of -16.1 % in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year and a negative annual change rate compared with the previous period (-4.4 %). Rotterdam, Constanta and Hamburg also registered substantial falls in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year (-10.6 %, -7.5 % and -4.9 %, respectively). However, Constanta recorded a positive annual change rate compared with the previous period (+7.9 %). Amsterdam was the only port to record a rise in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year (+3.5 %), with its annual change rate also positive (3.2 %).

Figure 12: Top 5 European maritime ports for dry bulk, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_pwhb)

In the container cargo segment, Rotterdam, Antwerpen and Hamburg remained the three main European ports in the 3rd quarter of 2019, followed by the two Spanish ports Algeciras and Valencia (Figure 13). These Top 5 ports all recorded increases in the tonnes of containerised goods compared with the 3rd quarter of 2018. Antwerpen showed the highest increase with 9.0 %, followed by Valencia (+7.0 %), Hamburg (+5.4 %), Algeciras (+4.0 %) and Rotterdam (+1.4 %). When looking at the overall annual change, the highest increase compared with the previous period was recorded by Valencia (+9.0 %), followed by Antwerpen (+5.5 %), Hamburg (+5.4 %), Algeciras and Rotterdam (both 3.2 %).

Figure 13: Top 5 European maritime ports for large containers, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_pwhc)

When looking at the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled in the same period, the ranking is similar. However, Piraeus took the place of Algeciras, which is out of the Top 5 (Figure 14). The Greek port recorded a growth of +15.2 % in the 3rd quarter 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year, leading to an overall annual change of +17.0 % compared with the previous period. The other ports also recorded substantial increases in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year, with the exception of Rotterdam (-7.7 %). Antwerpen rose by +10.2 %, Hamburg by +7.0 % and Valencia by +6.6 %. All these ports also registered overall annual growth compared with the previous period. The most noticeable growth after Piraeus was recorded by Valencia (+9.4 %), followed by Antwerpen (+7.2 %), Hamburg (+6.0 %) and Rotterdam (+3.7 %).

Figure 14: Top 5 European maritime ports for large containers, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(thousand TEUs)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_pvh)

When looking at the tonnage of Ro-Ro mobile units, the picture is very different compared with the other types of cargo. Dover was the largest European Ro-Ro port in the 3rd quarter of 2019, despite a decrease of -7.0 % compared with the same quarter of the previous year and an overall annual change of -4.2 % compared with the previous period (Figure 15). On the other side of the Channel, the port of Calais, the second largest European Ro-Ro port, also recorded a fall in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year (-7.4 %) and also a negative overall annual change compared with the previous period (-3.6 %). These two ports were followed in the ranking by Immingham, Zeebrugge and Dublin.

Figure 15: Top 5 European maritime ports for Ro-Ro mobile units, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_pwhr)

When looking at the tonnes of other general cargo, three Dutch ports were part of the Top 5 European ports in the 3rd quarter of 2019. Rotterdam ranked first, Zeeland ports second and Amsterdam fourth. Valencia ranked third and Antwerpen fifth, despite a large decrease of -33.2 % compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Zeeland ports also recorded a substantial decrease (-6.0 %). These two ports also registered significantly negative annual change rates compared with the previous period (-9.1 % and -5.3 %, respectively). By contrast, Amsterdam and Valencia recorded noticeable growths in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year (+10.8 % and +6.6 %, respectively). This is also reflected in the overall annual change; +14.7 % for Amsterdam and +5.6 % for Valencia compared with the previous period. Rotterdam also registered a positive overall annual change rate (+10.5 %), despite a slight decrease in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the same quarter of the previous year (-0.8 %).

Figure 16: Top 5 European maritime ports for other general cargo, 2018Q3-2019Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat, (mar_qg_qm_pwho)

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-27 aggregates refer to the total of 22 maritime Member States. Czechia, 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, quarterly data are currently not available for Iceland. The EEA country Liechtenstein has no maritime ports. The candidate countries Montenegro and Turkey provides data on a voluntary basis.

'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 the 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 Figure 5) includes partner ports geographically situated in Europe, on the Mediterranean or on the Black Sea. 'Deep sea shipping' is the complementary geographical aggregate, covering maritime transport of goods on intercontinental routes, crossing oceans. 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 Figure 9 and Table 2) is defined using the following three variables:

  1. Direction: 'inwards' transport is distinguished from 'outwards' transport.
  2. Partner geographical area (partner region): 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).
  3. Type of cargo: the following thirteen cargo types are used in Figure 9 and Table 2: 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 Figures 3 and 11 to 16.


Abbreviations

: 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 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 2 shows the percentage change for the four quarters ending in the 3rd quarter of 2019 compared with the four quarters ending in the 3rd quarter of 2018.

The basic results (in million tonnes) 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 data up to and including the 3rd quarter of 2019:

  • 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.
  • 2018 quarterly figures for Portugal include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).
  • 2018 and 2019 figures for Malta are provisional and are likely to be revised.
  • Montenegro started reporting detailed maritime data to Eurostat for the reference period 2018 Q1.

Due to revisions of the underlying data, figures in this article may differ from figures currently or previously available on Eurostat's web site.

Context

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.


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Maritime transport (mar)
Maritime transport - main annual results (mar_m)
Maritime transport - short sea shipping - main annual results (mar_s)
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Maritime transport - goods (mar_go)
Maritime transport - vessel traffic (mar_tf)
Maritime transport - regional statistics (mar_rg)