Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
From Statistics Explained
- Data from October 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents the main results from quarterly statistics on maritime transport of goods in the European Union (EU), plus figures for Iceland, Norway 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 maritime geographical areas. 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 2013 and a first estimate for the 1st quarter of 2014. The next update is provisionally scheduled for January 2015. Please note that quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revision.
Main statistical findings
At 900 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports decreased by 0.7 % in the 4th quarter of 2013 compared with the previous quarter. Compared with the 4th quarter of 2012, however, there was 1.2 % increase in activity in the main EU-28 ports.
Before the economic downturn in Europe in 2008/2009, an increase in the gross weight of goods handled in EU ports would have been expected between the third and fourth quarters of the year. This is shown in the seasonal pattern observed for the period 2005 to 2007 in Figure 1. Following the economic downturn, however, a new seasonal pattern seems to be emerging with increases in the 2nd quarter of the year and decreases in the 3 other quarters.
The estimate for the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 1st quarter of 2014 presented in Figure 2 is in line with this seasonal pattern, showing a slight decrease of 0.4 % between the 4th quarter of 2013 and the 1st quarter of 2014. Compared with the 1st quarter of 2013, there is an estimated increase of 1.2 % in EU-28 port activity, indicating the emergence of a trend in annual quarter-on-quarter growth rates at about this level.
Even so, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 4th quarter of 2013 was still considerably lower than the volume six years earlier, in the 4th quarter of 2007.
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
Inwards movements of goods made up 60 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 4th quarter of 2013, a decrease of 0.9 % compared with the previous quarter. In contrast, outwards movements of goods increased by 0.3 % in the same period. Compared with the 4th quarter of 2012, however, both inwards movements and outwards movements of goods to and from the main EU-28 ports recorded a healthy growth.
When looking at port activity by type of cargo in the 4th quarter of 2013, the tonnages of liquid bulk goods handled in the main EU-28 ports fell by 3.9 % compared with the previous quarter. This may reflect the impact of a mild winter in some countries. The tonnages of goods in containers also fell in the same period, with a reported decrease of 1.8 %. For the remaining types of cargo, the tonnages increased compared with the previous quarter. In the 4th quarter of 2013, dry bulk rose by 4.3% and other general cargo by 3 %, while Ro-Ro mobile units were little changed.
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Spain were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 4th quarter of 2013, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports.
More than half of the EU member states reported increases in the total tonnages of goods passing through their main ports in the 4th quarter of 2013 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. The highest increases were reported by Romania, Portugal, Croatia, Bulgaria and Cyprus, all with a reported rise in port activity of 14 % or more (in some cases considerably more). On the other hand, decreases of more than 10 % compared with the 4th quarter of 2012 were reported by Lithuania and Malta.
The main extra-EU partners
The reported tonnages of deep sea shipping to and from the main EU-28 ports fell by 2.4 % in the 4th quarter of 2013, compared with the previous quarter. The reported tonnages of short sea shipping decreased 0.1 %.
Compared with the previous quarter, there were substantial increases in inwards movements of coal from South Africa and Australia, oil products from the East Coast of the USA and crude oil from the Baltic Sea region of Russia in the 4th quarter of 2013. In contrast, the same period saw substantial falls in inwards movements of coal from the Baltic Sea region of Russia, crude oil from Nigeria, containers from China and ores from Brazil.
Its substantial export of liquid bulk to EU ports, especially crude oil from the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, makes Russia the EU’s largest maritime transport partner by far, followed by the USA, Brazil, China, Norway and Turkey.
Top European ports
Four out of the top 5 ports in Europe recorded a decrease in port activity in the 4th quarter of 2013 compared with the previous quarter. The exception was Antwerpen in Belgium, which recorded a rise of 2.5 % in the tonnages handled in this period, while Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, saw a fall of 3.3 % in the total gross weight of goods handled to 100.2 million tonnes. However, when comparing with the 4th quarter of 2012, all top 5 ports recorded increases, some substantial. Please note that the figures for Amsterdam in the Netherlands include the neighbouring port of Velsen starting from the 1st quarter of 2013.
Rotterdam is currently the major European port for all types of cargo, except for Ro-Ro mobile units. In the 4th quarter of 2013, Rotterdam recorded an increase in the tonnages of dry bulk goods and other general cargo, while the tonnages of liquid bulk and of containerised goods handled in the Dutch port fell. The German port of Hamburg also recorded a substantial rise in the tonnages of dry bulk goods compared with the previous quarter, while Amsterdam experienced a fall. In the same period, Antwerpen recorded growth in the tonnages of containerised goods, while Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bremerhaven in Germany and Algeciras in Spain all recorded substantial decreases.
Among the other top European ports, the port of Bergen in Norway recorded a considerable increase in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods compared with the previous quarter. Dover in the UK remained the largest European Ro-Ro port, handling a total of 6.2 million tonnes of goods transported on Ro-Ro mobile units in the 4th quarter of 2013.
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-28 aggregates refer to the total of 23 maritime Member States. The Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no maritime ports. Norway and Iceland provide Eurostat with data as members of the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA country Liechtenstein has no maritime ports. Turkey provides data on a voluntary basis as a candidate country.
“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 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.
“Short sea shipping” aggregate (in Table 5) includes the partner ports situated in geographical Europe, on the Mediterranean and Black Seas. “Deep sea shipping” is the complementary geographical aggregate. 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 Table 7) is defined using the following three variables:
- Direction: “inward” transport is distinguished from “outward” transport.
- Partner geographical area: 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 USA are grouped in two geographical areas: "East coast" (including Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Puerto Rico) and "West coast" (Pacific).
- Type of cargo: the following thirteen cargo types are used in Table 8: 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 Tables 3 and 9 to 13.
Up to 2006, Bulgaria reported the gross-gross weight of goods. From 2007, the gross weight of goods is reported. The Netherlands: data cover international traffic only.
- ":" 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 to 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.
Annual data as presented in this publication are the “rolling” four quarter totals, ending in the latest quarter and the corresponding four quarters for earlier years. As a result, the four quarters included do not necessarily come from the same calendar year. For example, the "Annual" growth rate column in Tables 2 to 14 shows the percentage change for the four quarters ending Q3 2013 compared to the four quarters ending Q3 2012.
The basic results (in million tonnes; in thousand TEUs) and the derived indicators (growth rates) shown in the tables are rounded. However they are all based on the non-rounded original data, as available in Eurostat's database.
Specific remarks for this publication for data up to and including the 4th quarter 2013:
- A first estimate for the following quarter is included in Figure 2 in this publication. The first estimate is based on data provided by the reporting countries in the same way as the ordinary maritime transport statistics. However, the quality checks on the underlying data have yet to be completed for all countries. Thus, the estimated figures may be subject to a higher level of revision than the statistics for the other quarters in this publication.
- The data for port activity in France for 2012 and 2013 were partially estimated by Eurostat. They are to be considered as provisional and are likely to be revised.
- Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for the port of Amsterdam include data for the port of Velsen.
- 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 minor regional ports outside the state-controlled port system.
Due to revisions of the underlying data, figures in this article may differ from figures currently or previously available on Eurostat's web site.
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.
The basic legal act (Directive 2009/42/EC) was amended by:
- Commission Decision 2010/216/EC of the EP and of the Council of 14 April 2010, OJ L 94, 15.4.2010, p. 33-40
- Regulation 1090/2010 of the EP and of the Council of 24 November 2010, OJ L 325, 9.12.2010, p. 1-3
- Commission Delegated Decision 2012/186/EU of 3 February 2012 OJ L 101 of 11.4.2012 pp. 5-14.
The following legal acts include respectively the last official version of the list of ports and some dissemination aspects:
- Commission Decision 2001/423/EC of 22 May 2001 (on dissemination) OJ L 151 of 07.06.2001 p. 41
- Commission Decision 2008/861/EC of 29 October 2008 (codified version) (Port list), OJ L 306, 15.11.2008, p. 66-97
- Coastal region statistics
- Freight transport statistics
- Maritime ports freight and passenger statistics
- Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods
- Passenger transport statistics
Further Eurostat information
- Transport, see:
- 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)
Methodology / Metadata
- Maritime transport (ESMS metadata file - mar_esms)