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September 3 2018

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European Shipping: Midyear Review and Outlook Cover Story Special Report www.joc.com September 3 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 25 THE SMALLER RIVALS of Europe's top ports have recently announced a rash of deals suggesting shippers could soon have alternative routes for their imports and exports. The leading container hubs still call the shots, thanks to the networks of the three powerful alliances — 2M, Ocean Alliance, and THE — that have consolidated and strengthened the dominance of the Le Havre-Hamburg port range with the top duo, Rotterdam and Antwerp, significantly increasing their traffic, a result of the economic revival across the continent. The 24 percent increase in traffic at the DCT Gdansk terminal to just short of 1.6 million TEU in 2017 was also due to the 2M Alliance and Ocean Alliance adding direct calls at the Polish terminal, which handled just 4,423 TEU when it opened 10 years earlier. Further, a 32.3 percent surge at Barcelona to 2.97 million TEU last year made it Europe's fast- est-growing container hub; that leap was largely due to Mediterranean Shipping Co., Maersk's 2M partner, launching five new services at the Spanish port. European shippers don't care which port handles their goods, and big companies attempt to strike the best deals with ocean carriers, while smaller firms rely on freight for- warders to find them the cheapest door-to-door freight rates. Therefore, shippers stick with big ports as long as they don't have an operational issue — such as the ongoing barge congestion at Ant- werp and Rotterdam. Meanwhile, there have been a few acquisitions of terminals in smaller ports in recent months that suggest a shift of traffic is likely, if The alliances can also make or break port ambitions, particularly across the competitive Northwest Europe waterfront. Calls by 2M and Ocean Alliance ships in the Asia-Europe trade have triggered a surge in traffic, prompting a 50 percent increase in the workforce at the Jade Weser terminal in the German port of Wil- helmshaven. It's an improvement of note for Wilhelmshaven because it was dismissed as a white elephant a few years after its opening in 2012, failing to attract any scheduled services. Europe's smaller ports grab bigger attention Wheeling and dealing could result in alternative routes for shippers By Bruce Barnard Hamburg's leading terminal operator is taking actions to expand its volumes. Shutterstock.com

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