Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
From Statistics Explained
- Data from September 2013. 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 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 2012 and a first estimate for the 1st quarter of 2013. The next update is provisionally scheduled for November 2013. Following the accession of Croatia as the 28th EU member country on 1 July 2013, all EU totals in the statistics have been recalculated from EU-27 to EU-28 aggregates starting from this dissemination.
Please note that quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revision. In this release, the figures for Italy for all four quarters of 2012 and the figures for the Netherlands for all quarters of 2011 and 2012 have been significantly revised compared with earlier releases. Some more information on these revisions is available in the specific remarks at the end of the article.
Main statistical findings
Activity in the main EU-28 ports continued its recent underlying downward trend in the 4th quarter of 2012. Compared with the 4th quarter of 2011 the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports fell by 3.6 %, to a total of 876 million tonnes of goods.
In a normal year, a rise in the total volume of goods handled in ports would be expected between the 3rd and the 4th quarter of the year, due to increased port activity ahead of the winter season. This can be seen in the seasonal pattern between the 3rd and the 4th quarters of the years from 2005 to 2007 in figure 1. In contrast, the volume of goods passing through the main EU-28 ports fell by 2.2 % between the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2012.
The recent figures reflect the re-emergence of a falling trend in EU-28 port activity after the recovery observed in six consecutive quarters once the full impact of the economic downturn in Europe had been felt. The change in the trend began in mid-2011 with the result that the overall volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in 2012 (just below 3.6 billion tonnes) was lower than in 2011.
The first estimate for the 1st quarter of 2013 suggests that this quarter-on-quarter decline in the tonnages of goods passing through the main EU-28 ports persisted at the start of 2013. As presented in figure 2, the first estimate indicates that EU-28 port activity in the 1st quarter of 2013 fell both compared to the previous quarter (-2.1 %) and with the corresponding quarter of the previous year (-4.5 %).
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
The decrease in port activity in the 4th quarter of 2012 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 3.3 % compared with the 4th quarter of 2011, while outwards movements decreased by 4.1 %. Both outwards and inwards movements of goods also decreased compared with the previous quarter (-2.4 % and -2.0 %, 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 4th quarter of 2012.
Within this overall decline in the total tonnages of goods handled in main EU-28 ports, the total tonnage of dry bulk goods rose by 2.6 % between the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2012, while the reported tonnages of other general cargo increased by 3.4 %. In comparison, the tonnages of liquid bulk goods fell by 4.4 % between the same periods, while the tonnages of goods transported by container and Ro-Ro mobile units fell by 3.6 % and 3.9 %, respectively.
More than two thirds of the reporting countries (17 out of 25) recorded falls in the total tonnages of goods passing through their main ports in the 4th quarter of 2012, compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year. Estonia and France recorded drops of more than 10 % compared with the same quarter in 2011, while Cyprus, Portugal, Romania, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom (UK) recorded decreases of more than 5 %. Greece and Poland, on the other hand, both reported increases of more than 10 % compared with the levels recorded a year earlier.
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 4th quarter of 2012, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods in their main ports.
Both short sea shipping and deep sea shipping decreased in the 4th quarter of 2012. While maritime transport to and from Africa and European countries outside the EU grew, transport with all the other main partner geographical areas (America and Asia & Oceania) and inside the EU fell compared with the 4th quarter of 2011.
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, Norway, Turkey, China and Egypt.
There were substantial decreases in inwards movements of crude oil from Egypt, Norway, Turkey and the Black Sea region of Russia in the 4th quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. This period also saw substantial falls in both inwards and outwards movements of containerized goods from China. In contrast, inwards movements of crude oil from Baltic Sea region of Russia, as well as from Libya, Nigeria and Algeria grew strongly. The same was the case for inwards movements of ores from Brazil, coal from the East Coast of the USA and oil products from the Baltic Sea region of Russia.
Following the uprising in February 2011, maritime transport between Libya and the EU-28 countries was reduced to very low levels. However, in the 4th quarter of 2012 inward movements of crude oil from Libya had recovered to almost 80 % of the level recorded two years earlier (in the 4th quarter of 2010).
Top European ports
Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, recorded an increase of 0.7 % in the total gross weight of goods handled in the 4th quarter of 2012, compared with the same quarter of 2011. However, port activity in Rotterdam decreased by 0.6 % compared with the previous quarter. Among the other top 5 ports in Europe, Antwerpen and Amsterdam reported increases compared with the 4th quarter of 2011, while Hamburg and Marseille recorded decreases.
Rotterdam is currently the major European port for all types of cargo, except Ro-Ro mobile units. In the 4th quarter of 2012, Rotterdam recorded increases in the volumes of liquid bulk goods compared with the previous year, while the volumes of dry bulk goods and containerised goods passing through the Dutch port decreased. As a result, the reported tonnages of containerised goods passing through Rotterdam was on par with the tonnages in Antwerpen for the first time in the 4th quarter of 2012.
Among the other major EU ports, Amsterdam recorded a considerable rise in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods in the 4th quarter of 2012, while Marseille recorded a considerable decrease. Hamburg and Bremerhaven both recorded decreases in the handling of containerised goods. On opposite sides of the Channel, Dover and Calais both recorded decreases in the volumes of Ro-Ro mobile units compared with the same quarter of the previous year.
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 provides Eurostat with data as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). Liechtenstein has no maritime ports. Montenegro, Iceland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey are candidate country. Turkey provides data on a voluntary basis.
“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 Q4 2012 compared to the four quarters ending Q4 2011.
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 2012:
- 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.
- Following the accession of Croatia as the 28th EU member country on 1 July 2013, all EU totals in this statistics have been recalculated from EU-27 to EU-28 aggregates starting from the dissemination of figures for 2012 Q4.
- The figures for the Netherlands for 2011 Q1-Q4 and 2012 Q1-Q4 have been significantly revised in connection with this dissemination to reflect better data for outwards movements of goods.
- The data for Italy for 2012 Q1-Q4 have been significantly revised in connection with this dissemination.
- The data for port activity in France for 2012 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
Further Eurostat information
- All transport publications online
- Energy, transport and environment indicators - 2012 edition - Pocketbook
- 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