Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
From Statistics Explained
- Data from January 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: April 2014.
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 1st quarter of 2013 and a first estimate for the 2nd quarter of 2013. The next update is provisionally scheduled for April 2014.
Please note that quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revision.
Main statistical findings
Activity in the main EU-28 ports continued its recent underlying downward trend in the 1st quarter of 2013. Compared with the 1st quarter of 2012, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports fell by 3.7% to a total of 867 million tonnes of goods. Compared with the previous quarter, the volume of goods passing through the main EU-28 ports fell by 1.3%.
In a normal year, a fall in the total volume of goods handled in ports is to be expected between the last quarter of a year and the 1st of the next year, due to a seasonal decrease in port activity at the start of the year. This can be seen in the seasonal pattern between these quarters of the years from 2005/2006 to 2007/2008 in figure 1.
The recent figures reflect the re-emergence of a falling trend in EU-28 port activity following the initial recovery observed in the six consecutive quarters from the 3rd quarter of 2009 to the 4th quarter of 2010, once the full impact of the economic downturn in Europe had been felt.
The first estimate for the 2nd quarter of 2013 suggests stagnation in the tonnage of goods passing through the main EU-28 ports. As presented in figure 2, the first estimate indicates that EU-28 port activity in the 2nd quarter of 2013 fell slightly compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year (-0.4%). However, the rise estimated compared to the 1st quarter of 2013 (+2.6%) may be an indication of a return to a more “normal” seasonal pattern in the handling of goods in the EU-28 ports.
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
The decrease in port activity in the 1st quarter of 2013 was the result of falls in both inwards and outwards movements of goods. Inward movements of goods through the main EU-28 ports fell by 3.5% compared with the 1st quarter of 2012, while outwards movements decreased by 4%. Both outwards and inwards movements of goods also decreased compared with the previous quarter (-1.7% and -0.7%, respectively). In total, inwards movements of goods made up 61% of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 1st quarter of 2013.
Within this overall decline in the total tonnage handled in main EU-28 ports, the tonnage of containerised goods fell by 6.2% compared with the 1st quarter of 2012, that of liquid bulk by 4.7%, dry bulk goods by 1.8% and goods transported by Ro-Ro mobile units by 8.9%.
More than half of the reporting countries (14 out of 26) recorded falls in the total tonnage of goods passing through their main ports in the 1st quarter of 2013, compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year. Spain and Malta recorded drops of 8% or more compared with the same quarter in 2012, while Germany, Estonia, Italy, Latvia and the Netherlands recorded decreases of more than 5%. Cyprus, Lithuania and Poland, on the other hand, both reported increases of more than 13% compared with the levels recorded a year earlier.
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 1st quarter of 2013, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports.
Both short sea shipping and deep sea shipping decreased in the 1st quarter of 2013. While maritime transport to and from Africa grew, transport with all the other main partner geographical areas (America and Asia & Oceania) and inside the EU fell compared with the 1st quarter of 2012.
The main extra-EU partners
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 extra-EU maritime transport partner by far, followed by the USA, Brazil, China, Norway, Turkey and Egypt.
There were substantial decreases in inwards movements of crude oil from Libya, Egypt, Turkey and the Baltic Sea region of Russia in the 1st quarter of 2013 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. The same period also saw substantial falls in outwards movements of containerized goods to China, inwards movements of Ores from Brazil and inwards movements of coal from the North Coast of Columbia.
In contrast, inwards movements of crude oil from Algeria and Nigeria grew strongly. The same was the case for inwards movements of coal and oil products from the Baltic Sea region of Russia and for outwards movements of oil products to Gibraltar.
Top European ports
Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, recorded a decrease of 4.9% in the total gross weight of goods handled in the 1st quarter of 2013 compared with the same quarter of 2012. Against that, port activity in Rotterdam increased by 2% compared with the previous quarter. Among the other top 5 ports in Europe, Antwerpen, Hamburg and Amsterdam all reported increases compared with the 1st quarter of 2012, while Marseille recorded a decrease.
Rotterdam is currently the major European port for all types of cargo, except Ro-Ro mobile units. In the 1st quarter of 2013, Rotterdam recorded an increase in the volumes of dry bulk goods compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year, while the volumes of liquid bulk goods and containerised goods passing through the Dutch port decreased.
Among the other major EU ports, Antwerpen recorded a considerable rise in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods in the 1st quarter of 2013, while Marseille and the Turkish port of Botas recorded considerable decreases. Antwerpen and Bremerhaven both recorded decreases in the handling of containerised goods, while Amsterdam recorded an increase in the handling of dry bulk. There were contrasting fortunes for the two ports on opposite sides of the Channel, with Dover recording an increase in the volumes of Ro-Ro mobile units compared with the same quarter of the previous year, while Calais recorded a fall.
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). 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 8) 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 10 to 14.
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. Iceland: data are currently not available.
- ":" 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 Q1 2013 compared to the four quarters ending Q1 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 1st 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 figures for the Netherlands for 2013 are provisional and are likely to be revised.
- The data for port activity in France for 2012 and 2013 are provisional and are likely to be revised.
- Starting from 2011 Q1, the quarterly figures for Spain include data for a number of minor regional ports outside the state-controlled port system.
- 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.
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
- All transport publications online
- Energy, transport and environment indicators - 2013 edition
- Continued recovery in volume of goods handled in EU ports - Statistics in focus 7/2013
- 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 - data aggregated at standard regional levels (NUTS) (mar_rg)
Methodology / Metadata
- Maritime transport (ESMS metadata file - mar_esms)
- Commission Decision 2008/861/EC of 29 October 2008 on rules for implementing Council Directive 95/64/EC (notified under document number C(2008) 6203) (Codified version)
- Commission Decision 2010/216/EC of 14 April amending Directive 2009/42/EC
- Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea (Recast)
- Illustrated Glossary for Transport Statistics - 4th edition
- Regulation 1090/2010 of 24 November 2010 amending Directive 2009/42/EC
- Commission Delegated Decision 2012/186/EU of 3 February 2012 amending Directive 2009/42/EC