Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
From Statistics Explained
- Data from June 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 3rd quarter of 2013 and a first estimate for the 4th quarter of 2013. The next update is provisionally scheduled for October 2014. Please note that quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revision.
Main statistical findings
At 905.5 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports decreased by 0.3 % in the 3rd quarter of 2013 compared with the previous quarter.
Before the economic downturn in Europe, a small fall in the gross weight of goods handled in EU ports would have been expected between the second and third quarters of the year. This is shown in the seasonal pattern observed for the period 2005 to 2008 in Figure 1. The slight decrease between the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2013, following the significant rise reported between the first two quarters of 2013, might signal a recovery from the falling trend in EU-28 port activity visible in the figures since the second half of 2011.
However, any such recovery might prove to be short-lived, as the first estimate for the 4th quarter of 2013 indicates a further fall of 1.3 % in the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports compared with the 3rd quarter of 2013 (Figure 2). This estimate suggests the handling of goods in EU ports might still not have returned to its historic seasonal pattern, as the seasonal trend expected before the economic downturn was for an increase in port activity between the 3rd and 4th quarter of the year.
Even so, the volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 4th quarter of 2013 is estimated to be 0.7 % higher than in the 4th quarter of 2012.
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
Inwards movements of goods made up almost 61 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in the 3rd quarter of 2013. Compared with the previous quarter, the inward movements of goods increased by 0.1 %, while outwards movements decreased by 1 %. Compared with the 3rd quarter of 2012, however, the trend is reversed, with inwards movements decreasing by 0.7 % and outwards movements increasing by 0.9 %.
When looking at movements in EU port activity by type of cargo in the 3rd quarter of 2013, the tonnages of dry bulk goods handled in the main EU-28 ports rose with 5.2 % compared with the previous quarter. Liquid bulk goods tonnages also rose slightly compared with the previous quarter (+0.6 %). In contrast, the tonnages reported for the remaining types of cargo decreased compared with the 2nd quarter of 2013. Other general cargo fell by 8.5 % and Ro-Ro mobile units by 5.7 %. The reported tonnages of goods in containers fell by 2.2 % in the 3rd quarter of 2013.
The Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Spain were the largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 3rd 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 3rd quarter of 2013 compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The highest growth rates were reported by Portugal and Romania (with increases of 25.5 % and 21 %, respectively). Overall, however, the decreases recorded in large maritime freight transport countries such as Spain (-2 %), France (-5.7 %), Italy (-5.5 %) and the UK (-1.1 %) more than offset the growth observed in the majority of the EU countries.
The main extra-EU partners
The total tonnages of deep sea shipping to and from the main EU-28 ports increased 2.5 % in the 3rd quarter of 2013, compared with a fall of 0.8 % in short sea shipping.
Compared with the previous quarter, there were substantial increases in inwards movements of ores from Brazil, crude oil from Nigeria and oil products from the Baltic Sea region of Russia in the 3rd quarter of 2013. In contrast, the same period saw substantial falls in inwards movements of crude oil from Libya and coal from the East Coast of the US.
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, Norway, China and Turkey.
Top European ports
All of the top 5 ports in Europe recorded growth in port activity in the 3rd quarter of 2013 compared with the 3rd quarter of 2012. Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, saw an increase of 4.5 % in the total gross weight of goods handled to 101.7 million tonnes. Antwerpen, Hamburg and particularly Amsterdam also saw considerable rises in the total tonnages compared with the corresponding quarter of 2012.
Compared with the previous quarter, however, both Amsterdam and Antwerpen recorded substantial decreases in the gross weight of goods handled in the 3rd quarter of 2013. There was little change in the port activity in the three remaining top 5 ports, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Algeciras, compared with the previous quarter.
Rotterdam is currently the major European port for all types of cargo, except for Ro-Ro mobile units. In the 3rd quarter of 2013, Rotterdam recorded an increase in the tonnages of liquid bulk goods and other general cargo, while the tonnages of containerised goods handled in the Dutch port fell.
Amsterdam and Hamburg both recorded substantial rises in the tonnages of dry bulk goods compared with the 3rd quarter of 2012, despite a fall compared with the previous quarter. In the same period, Algeciras recorded growth in the tonnages of containerised goods, while Antwerpen and Bremerhaven recorded decreases.
Among the other top EU ports, the port of Constanta in Romania recorded a considerable increase in the tonnages of dry bulk goods in the 3rd quarter of 2013. Dover in the UK remained the largest EU Ro-Ro port, handling a total of 6.4 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 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 3rd 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 were partially estimated by Eurostat. They are to be considered as 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 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).
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)