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August 14 2023

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34 Journal of Commerce | August 14, 2023 www.joc.com Top 50 Global Container Ports Special Report CONTAINER VOLUMES CONTINUE to fall at Europe's main ocean gateways, with Rotterdam following neigh- boring Antwerp-Bruges in posting a sharp drop in first-half throughput amid the loss of Russian cargo and weak demand for imports from Asia. Rotterdam on July 20 reported first-half throughput of 6.7 million TEUs, down from 7.2 million TEUs in the year-ago period. The steep- est decline was in imports, which dropped almost 10% year over year to 3.4 million TEUs. Lackluster container demand also weighed on the nearby Port of Ant- werp-Bruges in the first half of 2023, with total throughput falling 5.2% to 6.4 million TEUs compared with the year-ago period, the port said July 18. Rotterdam, Europe's busiest container port, is not expecting any significant rebound for the rest of the year after the 8.2% first-half decline. Glass half full The declines hid some positive trends, however. The bright spot for Rotterdam was a continued improve- ment in carrier schedule reliability, which the port said led to improved cargo flow through marine terminals and into the hinterland. Average on-time performance for container ships on the Asia to North Europe trade improved to 67.7% in May from 52.1% in January, while the average delay for late vessels improved to 3.09 days from 5.42 days during the same period, according to data from Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis. At Antwerp-Bruges, volumes of refrigerated (reefer) containers rose more than 10% in the first half and the year-over-year decline in overall throughput eased to 4.6% in the second quarter from 5.8% in the first quarter. "Operational challenges and congestion at the container termi - nals were resolved after two difficult years, with deviated cargo returning," the port said in a statement accompa- nying the first-half results. The increase in reefer shipments, especially bananas, pineapples, mel- ons and citrus, made Antwerp-Bruges the busiest port for fruit in Europe. Second- quarter volumes were further supported by maiden calls of ultra-large container ships, the port added. Overall, "the port is holding up rel- atively well" despite poor demand and lower industrial production still posing major challenges, Port of Antwerp-Bru- ges CEO Jacques Vandermeiren said in the statement. He added that although the outlook for the second half remains uncertain, "it is at least hopeful that scheduled services that were discontinued because of COVID-19 are now being restarted." The port remains the largest car port in the world and one of the largest breakbulk ports in the world. Total cargo volumes through Antwerp- Bruges fell 5.5% to 139 million metric tons in the first half. While most sec- tors were down year on year, including a 17% drop in conventional breakbulk volumes to 5.3 million mt, some car- goes saw an increase. Car shipments rose 15% to 1.8 million units in the first half com- pared with the prior period, support- ing a slight increase to 10.9 million mt in roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) freight. Throughput of transport equipment grew 3.6%, while unaccompanied freight (excluding containers) fell 2.1%, the port said. Slipping and sliding Rotterdam, Antwerp-Bruges ports see sharp H1 volume decline By Greg Knowler and Keith Wallis Asia-Europe schedule reliability rising from pandemic lows Percentage of on-time arrivals of container ships. Ships are considered late if they arrive one calendar day or more after schedule 100% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% L L Jul Jan 2020 Jul Jan 2021 Jul Jan 2022 Jan 2023 Asia to North Europe Asia to Mediterranean Asia to North Europe urope Asia to Mediterranean rra er Feb, 2023 n 2023 70% 70% Source: Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis © 2023 S&P Global Container throughput at Antwerp-Bruges (pictured) slipped 5.2% in H1, while Rotterdam saw volumes slide 8.2%. Port of Antwerp

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