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Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data

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Data extracted in June 2022

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Highlights

862 million tonnes of goods were handled in the main EU ports in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased by 3.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020.

Rotterdam remains the largest EU port with 112 million tonnes of goods handled in the fourth quarter of 2021.


[[File:Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports2021Q4.xlsx]]

Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports (2015Q4-2021Q4)

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 fourth quarter of 2021. 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 increased by 3.3 % in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020

At 862 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports slightly decreased by 0.1 % in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the previous quarter, but increased by 3.3 % versus the same quarter of 2020 (Figures 1 and 2). This growth shows a partial recovery of maritime transport that had plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions put in place in the EU and worldwide.

After the steady recovery observed since the second quarter of 2010 following the economic crisis, and the peak of activity reached in the third quarter of 2019, maritime transport observed a downwards trend until the second quarter of 2020.

When looking at the overall annual change, an increase of 4.0 % was observed in EU ports activity in terms of gross weight of goods handled compared with the previous period (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by direction, EU, 2009Q4-2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)


Inward movement of goods were 59.9 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the fourth quarter of 2021

The inward movements of goods made 59.9 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the fourth quarter of 2021. This share increased by 0.2 percentage points (p.p.) compared with the previous quarter and by 2.1 p.p. compared with the fourth quarter of the previous year.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2020, the inward movements of goods to the main EU ports increased by 7.2 %, to 517 million tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2021. Outward movements decreased by 1.9 % over the same period, down to 346 million tonnes.

When looking at the overall annual aggregate, the inward movements of goods increased by 4.8 % while outward movements grew by 2.8 %.

Figure 2: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, EU, 2009Q4-2021Q4
(% change rate on same quarter of previous year and annual change rate)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)

Large containers registered a decline of 4.4 % in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020

Compared with the same quarter of 2020, all types of cargo increased in the fourth quarter of 2021, with the exception of large containers (-4.4 %). The largest growth was registered by other general cargo (+11.7 %), followed by Roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units (+6.9 %), liquid bulk goods (+6.2 %) and dry bulk goods (+4.0 %). When looking at the overall annual change, other general cargo increased by 12.4 %, Ro-Ro units by 11.2 %, dry bulk goods by 5.7 %, large containers by 2.0 % and liquid bulk by 0.8 % (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of cargo, EU, 2019Q4-2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhk)

The Netherlands, Spain and Italy each handled more than 100 million tonnes of goods in the fourth quarter of 2021

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy were the EU countries with the largest amount of maritime freight handled in their main ports, each handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, 2020Q4, 2021Q3 and 2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

In the fourth quarter of 2021, nine of the maritime EU Member States reported a decrease in the tonnes of goods handled in their main ports compared with the same quarter of 2020 (Table 1). In relative terms, the largest decrease was observed for Malta (-74.5 %), followed by Portugal (-12.9 %, taking into account that data for Lisbon are not included in the fourth quarter of 2021), Cyprus (-12.8 %), Croatia (-9.1 %), Estonia (-6.9 %), Lithuania (-5.7 %) and Bulgaria (-4.7 %). On the other hand, Poland reported the highest increase in main port activity in this period (+13.3 %), followed by Slovenia (+12.1 %), Romania (+9.7 %) and France (+8.3 %). The candidate country Montenegro also registered a substantial growth over the same period (+11.9 %).

When looking at the overall annual change, seven Member States recorded a decrease. The largest drops was recorded by Malta (-41.3 %), followed by Latvia (-6.8 %), Cyprus (-6.5 %) and Finland (-6.4 %). The candidate country Montenegro also reported a substantial decrease by 9.7 %. The most noticeable growth was observed in Romania (+12.8 %).

Table 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, in selected quarters, 2019Q4-2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

Russia remained the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the fourth quarter of 2021

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. In particular, this level was particularly high in the data reported in the third quarter 2021 compared with the other quarters presented.

At 575 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports increased by 3.7 % in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter in 2020. Deep sea shipping tonnages saw also a growth of 3.1 %, to 280 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 (+3.8 % and +3.1 % respectively).

Figure 5: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of shipping, EU, 2019Q4-2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

Between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2021, international extra-EU transport increased by 4.9 %, international intra-EU transport by 1.9 % and national transport by 0.4 % (Figure 6). When looking at the overall annual change, national transport decreased by 3.2 % compared with the previous period whereas international intra-EU transport grew by 3.7 % and international extra-EU transport by 4.9 %.

Figure 6: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of transport, EU, 2019Q4-2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewht)

The increase in international extra-EU transport in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter in 2020 was mainly due to the growth in seaborne transport with ‘ ‘Europe except EU’ (+11 million tonnes or +5.8 %), ‘Africa’ (+7 million tonnes or +7.2 %) and ‘America’ (+5 million tonnes or +5.0 %) (Figure 7). Transport with ‘Asia and Oceania’ also increased, but more moderately by 1.2 %. When looking at the overall annual change, seaborne transport with all partner regions recorded a growth compared with the previous period, the highest being for ‘America’ (+6.5 %).

Figure 7: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by partner regions, EU, 2019Q4-2021Q4
(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 fourth quarter of 2021, 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 13.8 % of the total extra-EU maritime transport.

Maritime transport between the EU and Canada recorded the largest fall in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020 (-9.0 %). Nigeria was the only other partner country with which EU maritime traffic decreased in the same period (-4.7 %). In contrast, traffic with Egypt and the United Kingdom increased substantially over the same period, by 18.7 % and 10.3 % respectively.

When looking at the overall annual change, transport with the United Kingdom substantially increased compared with the previous period (+12.3 %). In contrast, decreases were observed for transport between the EU and Nigeria (-8.4 %) and between the EU and Egypt (-4.6 %).

Figure 8: Top 10 extra-EU partner countries in maritime transport, EU, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(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 fourth quarter of 2021, the main maritime trade flow concerned inward movements of large containers from China, with 16.4 million tonnes. 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.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, 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 China and Turkey, Ro-Ro mobile units from the United Kingdom, ores from Brazil and the East coast of Canada, coal from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea, as well as outward movements of Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom and of large containers to China, the East coast of the USA and the United Kingdom.

Figure 9: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, 2020Q4, 2021Q3 and 2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

In the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020, there were substantial increases in the inward and outward movements; the most noticeable being for large containers to the United Kingdom (+67.5 %), crude oil from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (+57.0 %), from Libya (+50.5 %) and from Norway (+43.2 %), ores from Brazil (+35.0 %) and crude oil from the East coast of the USA (+23.0 %). By contrast, large decreases were observed for large containers to China (-22.4 %), crude oil from Russian ports in the Black Sea (-22.1 %) and large containers from Turkey (-11.2 %), see Table 2.

When looking at the overall annual change, 12 of the top 20 maritime trade flows recorded a growth compared with the previous period. The highest increase was registered in the inward movements of crude oil from Libya (+279.7 %), followed by outward movements of large containers to the East coast of the USA (+119.6 %) and inward movements of ores from Brazil (+32.1 %). In contrast, large drops were recorded in the inward movements of crude oil from Nigeria (-13.9 %), from Russian ports in the Black Sea (12.0 %) and from the United Kingdom (-11.5 %), and Ro-Ro mobile units from the United Kingdom (-11.4 %).

Table 2: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, in selected quarters, 2019Q4-2021Q4
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

Rotterdam remained the EU port with largest activity in the fourth quarter of 2021

Rotterdam was by far the EU port with the largest activity in the fourth quarter of 2021, with 112 million tonnes of gross weight of goods handled (Figure 10). Rotterdam was the main EU port for all types of cargo, except Ro-Ro mobile units (Figures 11 to 16). The second main port was Antwerpen, which handled less than half of the tonnage recorded by Rotterdam (54 million tonnes). The third port was Hamburg with 28 million tonnes. The fourth and fifth ports were Algeciras and Amsterdam with 22 and 21 million tonnes respectively. Among the five ports, Algeciras and Hamburg registered a decrease compared with the fourth quarter of 2020 (-8.8 % and -2.1 % respectively). In the same period, Rotterdam increased by 5.4 %, Amsterdam by 2.3 % and Antwerpen by 2.0 %.

When looking at the overall annual change, only the last two ports of the top 5 registered a decrease: Algeciras by 6.2 % and Amsterdam by 1.5 %. In contrast, the largest growth was observed for Rotterdam (+8.6 %), while Antwerpen and Hamburg increased by 4.6 % and 1.8 % respectively.

Figure 10: Top 5 EU maritime ports, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwh)

When looking at liquid bulk, Rotterdam was by far the main EU port in the fourth quarter of 2021, followed by Antwerpen, Marseille, Trieste and Amsterdam (Figure 11). The port of Amsterdam registered the largest decrease (-17.3 %) compared with the same quarter of 2020, leading to an overall annual change rate compared with the previous period of -9.7 %. The port of Marseille also fell by 3.1 % compared with the same quarter of 2020 leading to an overall annual change rate compared with the previous period of -2.5 %. The port of Trieste recorded a substantial increase, by 12.2 %, in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020. However, when looking at the overall annual change rate, Trieste registered a decrease of 1.8 % compared with the previous period. In contrast, Rotterdam and Antwerpen recorded a growth in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020 (+8.6 % and +6.4 % respectively) and also a growth of the overall annual change rate compared with the previous period (+6.4 % and +4.8 %).

Figure 11: Top 5 EU maritime ports for liquid bulk, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhl)

When looking at dry bulk, Rotterdam was again by far the main EU port in the fourth quarter of 2021, followed by Amsterdam, Constanta, Hamburg and Klaipeda (Figure 12). Amsterdam recorded the highest growth in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020 (+24.1 %). Constanta and Rotterdam also increased substantially, by 20.2 % and 12.2 % respectively. In contrast, Klaipeda and Hamburg recorded a substantial decrease over the same period (-15.4 % and -8.3 % respectively). When looking at the overall annual change rate compared with the previous period, all ports reported substantial growths, with the exception of Klaipeda (-5.0 %). Rotterdam registered the highest growth (+24.4 %), followed by Constanta (+21.5 %), Amsterdam (+6.0 %) and Hamburg (+3.4 %).

Figure 12: Top 5 EU maritime ports for dry bulk, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(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 fourth quarter of 2021, followed by Valencia and Algeciras (Figure 13). The five ports recorded a decrease compared with the same quarter of the previous year. The biggest drop was registered by Algeciras (-13.9 %), leading to an overall annual change of -11.1 %. Valencia and Antwerpen also showed a substantial fall compared with the same quarter of the previous year (-12.1 % and -9.9 % respectively). Despite this large decrease, Valencia recorded a slight increase when looking at the overall annual change compared with the previous period (+0.6 %). Rotterdam and Hamburg decreased by 2.1 % and 0.8 %, respectively, compared with the same quarter of the previous year, but the overall annual change was positive compared with the previous period (+3.9 % and +1.1 % respectively).

Figure 13: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(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 identical to the one based on tonnes of containerised goods (Figure 14). Rotterdam and Hamburg increased in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter of 2020 (+4.3 % and +1.6 % respectively), whereas the three other ports decreased: Antwerpen (-8.6 %), Valencia (-6.7 %) and Algeciras (-6.2 %). Regarding the overall annual change compared with the previous period, all ports recorded a growth with the exception of Algeciras (-6.1 %). Rotterdam recorded the highest growth (+9.0 %), followed by Valencia (+3.2 %), Hamburg (+2.6 %) and Antwerpen (+0.3 %).

Figure 14: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(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. Calais was the largest EU Ro-Ro port in the fourth quarter of 2021. It was followed by Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Lubeck and Livorno.

Compared with the same quarter of 2020, Livorno was the only top five port to record a drop (-12.2 %) in the fourth quarter of 2021. In contrast, Calais substantially increased by 79.6 %, Zeebrugge by 41.4 %, Lubeck by 27.9 % and Rotterdam by 26.0 %. When looking at the overall annual change compared with the previous period, all ports recorded substantial increases. The highest increase was recorded by Zeebrugge, with +55.0 %, followed by Calais (+38.5 %), Rotterdam (+38.1 %), Lubeck(+30.0 %) and Livorno (+8.1 %). These large growths certainly reflect the partial recovery following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figure 15: Top 5 EU maritime ports for Ro-Ro mobile units, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(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 fourth quarter of 2021. Rotterdam ranked first, ‘Zeeland ports’ third and Amsterdam fifth. Antwerpen ranked second and Valencia fourth. Antwerpen registered the largest increase compared with the same quarter of 2020, by 104.1 %, followed by ‘Zeeland ports’ (+22.5 %), Amsterdam (+14.2 %) and Valencia (+11.5 %). In contrast, Rotterdam recorded a decrease by 7.7 % over the same period. When looking at the overall annual change rates compared with the previous period, all ports recorded a growth, with the exception of Rotterdam (-0.9 %). Antwerpen substantially increased by 72.4 %, Valencia by 16.6 %, ‘Zeeland ports’ by 15.8 %, and Amsterdam by 1.6 %.

Figure 16: Top 5 EU maritime ports for other general cargo, 2020Q4-2021Q4
(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 fourth quarter of 2021:

  • 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).
  • In 2021 Q1, the quarterly figures for Greece do not include data for a number ports because they were below the threshold of 1 million tonnes in 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic or due to reduced industrial activity.
  • 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). In 2021 Q2 and Q3, data for the port of Lisbon are not included.
  • Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for Sweden 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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