Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data

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Data extracted in July 2021

Planned article update: October 2021

Highlights

826 million tonnes of goods were handled in the main EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2020.

The gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports decreased by 4.6 % in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019.

COVID-19 has most certainly led to a substantial fall of the maritime transport of goods in the 4th quarter of 2020.

Rotterdam remains the largest EU port with 106 million tonnes of goods handled in the 4th quarter of 2020.


[[File:Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports2020Q4.xlsx]]

Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports (2014Q4-2020Q4)

This article presents the main results from quarterly statistics on maritime transport of goods in the European Union (EU), plus figures for 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 4th quarter of 2020. Please note that the quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revisions.


Full article


Gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports decreased by 4.6 % in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019

At 826 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased by 6.2 % in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter but decreased by 4.6 % versus the same quarter of 2019 (Figures 1 and 2). This substantial fall can most probably be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions put in place in the EU and worldwide.

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 observed a downwards trend until the 2nd quarter of 2020.

When looking at the overall annual change, a decrease of 9.5 % was observed in EU port activity in terms of gross weight of goods handled compared to the previous period (Figure 2).


Figure 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by direction, EU, 2008Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)


Inward movement of goods were 57.8 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2020

The inward movements of goods made 57.8 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2020. This share decreased by 0.8 percentage points compared to the previous quarter. This was the lowest share observed in the period 2008Q4-2020Q4. In comparison, 64.5 % of the total volume of goods handled were inward movements in 2008Q4, when it was the maximum observed.

Compared to the 4th quarter of 2019, the inward movements of goods to the main EU ports decreased substantially by 6.8 %, falling to 478 million tonnes in the 4th quarter of 2020. Outward movements also decreased, but more moderately by 1.4 % over the same period, falling to 349 million tonnes.

When looking at the overall annual aggregate, the inward and outward movements of goods substantially decreased by 11.2 % and 6.9 % respectively.

Figure 2: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, EU, 2008Q4-2020Q4
(% change rate on same quarter of previous year and 'annual' change rate)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)

Liquid bulk goods registered a decrease of 9.7 % in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019

Compared to the same quarter of 2019,liquid bulk goods registered the largest decrease (-9.7 %) in the 4th quarter of 2020, followed by dry bulk goods (-8.4 %) and other general cargo (-3.2 %). In contrast roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units and large containers increased by 3.0 % and 2.8 % respectively. When looking at the overall annual change, all types of cargo category registered substantial decreases. Dry bulk goods and other general cargo fell both by 12.7 %, liquid bulk by 11.0 %, Ro-Ro units by 8.8 % and large containers by 3.9 % (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of cargo, EU, 2018Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhk)

Netherlands, Spain and Italy handled more than 100 million tonnes of goods in the 4th quarter of 2020

In the 4th quarter of 2020, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy were the EU countries with the largest amount of maritime freight handled in their main ports, both handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, 2019Q4, 2020Q3 and 2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

Only seven of the maritime EU Member States, as well as the candidate country Montenegro, reported an increase in the tonnes of goods handled in their main ports compared to the same quarter of 2019 (Table 1). In relative terms, the largest decrease was observed for Bulgaria (-25.7 %), followed by Latvia (-24.8 %), Romania, Sweden (both -13.7 %), Slovenia (-12.3 %), Finland (-10.8 %) and France (-10.2 %). On the other hand, Malta reported a considerable increase in main port activity in this period (+131.2 %). Cyprus (+24.4 %), Croatia (+10.9 % and Lithuania (+10.6 %) also recorded noticeable growths.

When looking at the overall annual change, only four Member States recorded an increase: Malta (+10.4 %), Croatia (+5.4 %), Cyprus (+0.6 %) and Estonia (+0.5 %). All other countries registered a drop, the largest in relative terms being recorded by Latvia (-29.5 %), followed by Italy (-19.5 %), Bulgaria (-18.5 %), Slovenia (-17.2 %), France (-13.8 %) and Romania (-10.6 %).

Table 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, in selected quarters, 2018Q4-2020Q4
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

Russia was the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the 4th quarter of 2020

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 more than half in the data reported between the 4th quarter 2018 and the 1st quarter 2019.

At 547 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports decreased by 3.7 % in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019. Deep sea shipping tonnages saw also a fall of 6.6 %, to 270 million tonnes (Figure 5). When looking at the overall annual change, both short sea shipping and deep sea shipping substantially decreased compared to the previous period (-9.6 % and -9.5 % respectively).

Figure 5: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of shipping, EU, 2018Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

Between the 4th quarter of 2019 and the 4th quarter of 2020, national transport decreased by 5.9 %, international extra-EU transport by 5.6 % and international intra-EU transport by 1.9 % (Figure 6). When looking at the overall annual change, national transport decreased by 14.9 % compared to the previous period, international extra-EU transport by 9.3 % and international intra-EU transport by 7.5 %.

Figure 6: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of transport, EU, 2018Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewht)

Seaborne transport with all partner regions substantially decreased in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The highest fall was observed for transport with ‘America’ (-9.3 %), followed by ‘Africa’ (-9.1 %), ‘Europe except EU’ (-3.6 %), ’EU’ (-3.1 %) and ’Asia and Oceania’(-2.2 %) (Figure 7). When looking at the overall annual change, seaborne transport with all partner regions recorded a substantial drop compared to the previous period.

Figure 7: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by partner regions, EU, 2018Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

In terms of the total gross weight of goods, Russia was still the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the 4th quarter of 2020, followed by the United Kingdom, the United States of America (USA), Turkey, China, Norway, Brazil, Egypt, Canada and Nigeria (Figure 8). EU transport with Russia represented 13.4 % of the total extra-EU maritime transport.

Maritime transport between the EU and Egypt recorded the largest fall in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019 (-20.8 %). EU maritime traffic with Nigeria, Brazil and Norway also substantially decreased in the same period (-18.4 %, -16.0 % and -15.5 % respectively). In contrast traffic with Canada and China increased substantially by 13.4 % and 11.8 % respectively in the same period.

When looking at the overall annual change, only transport with China increased compared to the previous period (+4.4 %). The largest decrease was observed for transport between the EU and Egypt (-18.6 %).

Figure 8: Top 10 extra-EU partner countries in maritime transport, EU, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhp)

A substantial share of the seaborne transport with Russia is made up of inward movements 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 4th quarter of 2020, the main maritime trade flow concerned inward movements of large containers from China. When looking at outward movements, large containers going to China were the second main maritime trade flow, after the outward movements of Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom.

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

Figure 9: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, 2019Q4, 2020Q3 and 2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

In the 4th quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter of 2019, there were substantial decreases in the inward movements of crude oil from Norway (-39.2 %), Egypt (-36.4 %), Nigeria (-28.8 %), Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (-14.3 %) and oil products from Russian ports on the Black Sea (-12.6 %) and on the Baltic Sea (-8.9 %). By contrast, large increases were observed in the outward movements of Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom (+14.5 %), large containers to China (+12.8 %) and the East coast of the USA (+12.1 %) and also in the inward movements of ores from the East coast of Canada (+14.2 %) and coal from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (+12.3 %) (Table 2).

When looking at the overall annual change, 16 of the top 20 maritime trade flows recorded a fall compared to the previous period. The most substantial drop was registered in the inward movements of crude oil from Egypt (-32.8 %), followed by crude oil from Turkey (-22.1 %), coal from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (-20.9 %), crude oil from Nigeria (-18.9 %) and from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (-13.8%). In contrast, large growths were recorded in the inward movements of crude oil from the East coast of the USA (+35.6 %) and the United Kingdom (+16.8 %).

Table 2: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, in selected quarters, 2018Q4-2020Q4
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

Rotterdam was the EU port with largest activity in the 4th quarter of 2020

Rotterdam was by far the EU port with largest activity in the 4th quarter of 2020, with 106 million tonnes of gross weight of goods handled (Figure 10). Rotterdam was the main EU port for all types of cargo, with the exception of Ro-Ro mobile units (Figures 11 to 16). Nevertheless, Rotterdam was also in the top five ports for Ro-Ro mobile units. The second main port was Antwerpen, which handled half of the tonnage recorded by Rotterdam (53 million tonnes). The third port was Hamburg with 29 million tonnes. The fourth port was Algeciras with 23 million tonnes preceding the second main Dutch port, Amsterdam, which was in fifth position with 21 million tonnes. Among the five ports only the two Dutch ports registered a decrease compared to the 4th quarter of 2019; the highest being for Amsterdam (-14.2 %), followed by Rotterdam (-1.0 %). For the same period, growths were observed for the three remaining ports, even though at different scales: Hamburg by 4.9 %), Algeciras by 3.7 % and Antwerpen by 0.3 %.

When looking at the overall annual change, the five ports registered a drop compared to the previous period; the largest being observed for Amsterdam (-13.9 %), followed by Rotterdam (-6.9 %), Hamburg (-6.8 %), Antwerpen (-3.6 %) and Algeciras (-1.6 %).

Figure 10: Top 5 EU maritime ports, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwh)

When looking at liquid bulk, Rotterdam was the main EU port in the 4th quarter of 2020, followed by Antwerpen, Amsterdam, Marseille and Trieste (Figure 11). The port of Marseille registered the largest decrease (-9.1 %) in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019, leading to an overall annual change rate compared to the previous period of -10.7 %. All the other ports also recorded decreases in the 3rd quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019: Trieste by 8.5 %, Amsterdam by 6.6 %, Rotterdam by 4.3 % and Antwerpen by 0.9 %.

Figure 11: Top 5 EU maritime ports for liquid bulk, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhl)

When looking at dry bulk, Rotterdam and Amsterdam were the two main EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2020, followed by Hamburg, Klaipeda and Constanta (Figure 12). Klaipeda and Hamburg both reported substantial growths in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019 (+34.7 % and +15.5 % respectively). Despite this increase, Hamburg registered a fall in the overall annual change rate compared to the previous period (-4.7 %). All the other ports registered substantial falls in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019 and in the overall annual change rate compared to the previous period. The highest fall was registered for Amsterdam (-19.7 % compared to the same quarter of 2019 and an overall annual change rate of -16.5 %). Constanta and Rotterdam also registered substantial drops compared to the same quarter of 2019 (-18.6 % and -9.7 %, respectively) that lead to significant falls in the overall annual change rate compared to the previous period (-10.2 % and -18.5 % respectively).

Figure 12: Top 5 EU maritime ports for dry bulk, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhb)

In the large container cargo segment, Rotterdam, Antwerpen and Hamburg remained the three main EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2020, followed by Valencia and Algeciras (Figure 13). The five ports registered an increase compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Valencia showed the highest increase by 25.2 %, while Algeciras increased by 4.7 %, Antwerpen by 4.4 %, Rotterdam by 2.7 % and Hamburg by 0.3 %. When looking at the overall annual change, only Hamburg decreased compared to the previous period (-7.4 %) while Valencia (+5.1 %), Algeciras (+2.2 %), Antwerpen (+1.0 %) and Rotterdam (+0.7 %) increased.

Figure 13: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(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 was similar to the one based on tonnes of containerised goods. However, Bremerhaven took the place of Algeciras, which was out of the top five based on TEUs compared to the ranking in the 3rd quarter 2020 (Figure 14). Hamburg was the only port among the top five to show a decrease in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019 (-1.9 %). In contrast, Bremerhaven (+15.3 %), Valencia (+14.5 %), Rotterdam (+8.7 %) and Antwerpen (+6.6 %) increased substantially in the same period. Regarding the overall annual change compared to the previous period, Hamburg registered the highest drop (-7.6 %), while only Antwerpen registered an increase among the top five ports (+2.5 %).

Figure 14: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(thousand TEUs)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pvh)

When looking at the tonnage of Ro-Ro mobile units, the picture is very different compared to the other types of cargo. Calais was the largest EU Ro-Ro port in the 4th quarter of 2020, followed by Dublin, Livorno, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam.

Rotterdam, Dublin and Livorno recorded a noticeable growth in the 4th quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019 (+14.7 %, +11.8 % and +10.6 %, respectively. When looking at the overall annual change compared to the previous period, all five ports registered a fall. The highest was observed for Zeebrugge (-10.9 %), followed by Calais (-8.7 %), Rotterdam (-7.0 %), Livorno (-3.2 %) and Dublin (-1.0 %).

Figure 15: Top 5 EU maritime ports for Ro-Ro mobile units, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(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 five EU ports in the 4th quarter of 2020. Rotterdam ranked first, ‘Zeeland ports’ second and Amsterdam fifth. Valencia ranked third and Antwerpen fourth. Amsterdam registered the largest decrease compared to the same quarter of 2019, by 30.7 %, followed by Valencia (-6.9 %) and Antwerpen (-3.6 %). By contrast, Rotterdam recorded a substantial growth of 30.5 % while ‘Zeeland ports’ increased by 6.4 %. When looking at the overall annual change rates compared to the previous period, Rotterdam and ‘Zeeland ports’ were the only port to record a growth (+10.7 % and 0.8 % respectively) while the highest drop was registered by Amsterdam (-27.0 %), followed by Antwerpen (19.1 %) and Valencia (-11.2 %).

Figure 16: Top 5 EU maritime ports for other general cargo, 2019Q4-2020Q4
(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 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 provide 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.

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 4th quarter of 2020:

  • 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.
  • Starting from 2018 Q1, quarterly figures for Portugal include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).

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)
Maritime transport - passengers (mar_pa)
Maritime transport - goods (mar_go)
Maritime transport - vessel traffic (mar_tf)
Maritime transport - regional statistics (mar_rg)