Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
From Statistics Explained
- Data from February 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 2nd quarter of 2013 and a first estimate for the 3rd quarter of 2013. The next update is provisionally scheduled for June 2014. Please note that quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revision.
Main statistical findings
The normal strong seasonal growth in activity in the main EU-28 ports remerged in the 2nd quarter of 2013, in contrast to the recent underlying downward trend. Compared with the previous quarter, the volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports rose by 3.3 % to a total of 895.5 million tonnes of goods. Compared with the 2nd quarter of 2012, however, the gross weight of goods passing through the main EU-28 ports fell by 2.3 %.
The seasonal pattern of a rise in the total volume of goods handled in ports between the first and second quarters of each year is apparent in the years from 2005 to 2008 in figure 1. In this respect, the recent figures may reflect an end to the falling trend in EU-28 port activity since the 2nd quarter of 2011, following the initial recovery observed after the full impact of the economic downturn in Europe was felt in the first two quarters of 2009.
The first estimate for the 3rd quarter of 2013 strengthens the suggestion of an end to the falling trend in EU-28 port activity. As presented in figure 2, the first estimate indicates that EU-28 port activity in the 3rd quarter of 2013 was on par with that reported in the previous quarter, where a seasonal decrease between the 2nd and 3rd quarter would have been expected. However, the volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 3rd quarter of 2013 is still estimated to be 2.3 % lower than in the 3rd quarter of 2012.
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
The increase in port activity in the 2nd quarter of 2013 was the result of rises in both inwards and outwards movements of goods, although outwards movements rose slightly more. Inward movements of goods through the main EU-28 ports rose by 2.6 % compared with the previous quarter, while outwards movements increased by 4.2 %. As is to be expected from the recent trend in EU-28 port activity, both inwards and outwards movements decreased compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year (-3.0 % and -1.3 %, respectively). In total, inwards movements of goods made up about 61% of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 2nd quarter of 2013.
Within the overall increase in the total tonnage handled in main EU-28 ports in the 2nd quarter of 2013, the tonnage of containerised goods rose by 8.0 % compared with the previous quarter, the tonnages of goods transported by Ro-Ro mobile units rose by 9.8 % and the tonnages of dry bulk goods by 2.8 %. The tonnages of liquid bulk goods, on the other hand, fell by 1.6 % compared with the previous quarter.
More than half of the reporting countries (16 out of 26) recorded falls in the total tonnage of goods passing through their main ports in the 2nd quarter of 2013 compared with the 2nd quarter of 2012. On the other hand, the EU member states Cyprus, Poland, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany all reported increases in main port activity compared with the levels recorded a year earlier. The same was the case for the EEA countries Iceland and Norway, as well as the candidate country Turkey.
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Spain were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 2nd quarter of 2013, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports.
The main extra-EU partners
While deep sea shipping increased considerably in the 2nd quarter of 2013 compared with the previous quarter (4.4 %), the rise in short sea shipping was more modest (0.7 %). Maritime transport to and from the American continent grew by 11.6 %, while maritime transport with Africa fell by 4.2 %. In comparison, seaborne transport within the EU increased 1.0 % in the same period.
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, Turkey, Norway, China and Egypt.
Compared with the previous quarter, there were substantial increases in inwards movements of coal from the East Coast of the USA, crude oil from Saudi Arabia, liquefied gas from Qatar and coal from the Baltic Sea region of Russia in the 2nd quarter of 2013. In contrast, the same period saw substantial falls in inwards movements of crude oil from Nigeria, Algeria and the Baltic Sea region of Russia and in outwards movements of oil products to Gibraltar. Outwards movements of containers to China grew by 6.1 % compared with the 1st quarter of 2013.
Top European ports
All top 5 ports in Europe recorded growth in port activity in the 2nd quarter of 2013, both compared with the previous quarter and with the 2nd quarter of 2012. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, recorded an increase of 2.9 % in the total gross weight of goods handled compared with the previous quarter of 2013. Compared with the 2nd quarter of 2012, the growth recorded in Rotterdam was 3.8 %.
Among the other top 5 ports in Europe, Antwerpen, Hamburg and Amsterdam all reported considerable increases in tonnages of goods in the 2nd quarter of 2013. The Spanish port of Algeciras recorded an increase of 16.2 % in tonnages of goods compared with the previous quarter, replacing Marseille as the fifth largest port in Europe in terms of tonnages of goods handled.
Rotterdam is currently the major European port for all types of cargo, except Ro-Ro mobile units. In the 2nd quarter of 2013, Rotterdam recorded an increase in the volumes of dry bulk goods and containerised goods, while the volumes of liquid bulk goods passing through the Dutch port decreased.
Among the other top EU ports, Antwerpen recorded a considerable increase in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods and containers, while Hamburg recorded increases in both dry bulk goods and containers. Amsterdam recorded growth in dry bulk goods and Algeciras reported a substantial growth in the tonnages of containerised goods.
All the top 5 Ro-Ro ports recorded substantial increases in the tonnages of goods transported on mobile units compared with the 1st quarter of 2013. Dover in the UK remained the largest EU Ro-Ro port in the 2nd quarter of 2013, handling a total of 6.3 million tonnes of goods transported on Ro-Ro mobile units.
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 Q2 2013 compared to the four quarters ending Q2 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 2nd 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).
- The figures for Portugal for 2013 Q2 are provisional and are likely to be revised.
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 - data aggregated at standard regional levels (NUTS) (mar_rg)
Methodology / Metadata
- Maritime transport (ESMS metadata file - mar_esms)