Port of Rotterdam Reports Record Numbers for First Half of 2019
The Port of Rotterdam reports that it saw a record throughput of 240 million tonnes of cargo in the first half of the year, driven upward by a record volume of container traffic.
Container throughput rose by more than six percent on a TEU basis, primarily due to higher import and transshipment activity for European market destinations. Containerized cargo from Asian exporters rose, a sign of a strong European consumer economy. Total TEUs rose faster than total cargo tonnage due to a large number of empties handled.
Energy shipping was also up – especially LNG, which nearly doubled relative to the same period last year thanks to rising exports of competitively-priced American natural gas to Europe. Crude oil imports from the United States also rose markedly, thanks to a discount on American oil relative to Brent, the port said.
Financially, the increase in total cargo volume has been positive for the port, which saw an operating result of about $155 million for the first half – about seven percent better than the same period last year.
Global market clouds forecast
The port’s ro/ro traffic has been significantly affected by the touch-and-go nature of Britain’s Brexit preparations. Over the first three months of the year, shippers made preparations for the expected March deadline for Brexit, leading to stockpiling and a rapid increase in ro/ro trade with UK ports. When a “hard” Brexit did not materialize as expected and the EU granted Britain an extension, shippers drew down their stockpiles, leading to a fall in ro/ro throughput.
“In the macroeconomic field, relations between the world’s major trading blocs remain strained,” said port CEO Allard Castelein. “There is also ongoing uncertainty about the introduction of trade tariffs post-Brexit. Both developments are rendering the prospects for the further growth of world trade uncertain. Given the global uncertainties . . . the Port of Rotterdam Authority expects a slight weakening of the growth in cargo throughput in the second half of 2019.”