Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
From Statistics Explained
- Data from April 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, Croatia 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 2012 and a first estimate for the 3rd quarter of 2012. The next update is provisionally scheduled for July 2013. Please note that the quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revision.
Main statistical findings
The gross weight of goods handled in main EU-27 ports grew by 0.6 % between the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2012, ending the quarter-on-quarter decline registered in the three previous quarter 2012 (-1.2 %, -0.9 % and -0.4 %, respectively).
Under normal circumstances, a seasonal rise in the total volume of goods handled in ports between the 1st and the 2nd quarter of a year is to be expected. This is due to a historic seasonal pattern of increased economic activity towards the start of the summer season.
Compared with the corresponding quarter of 2011, however, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-27 ports decreased by 1.9 % in the 2nd quarter of 2012. Against this context, the increase in port activity between the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2012 may reflect the start of a renewed recovery from a situation of weak economic activity rather than the return to a normal seasonal pattern of growth.
The first estimate for the 3rd quarter of 2012 presented in figure 2 suggests that this quarter-on-quarter recovery in the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU-27 ports persisted in the second half of 2012 (+0.3 %). However, the total amount of goods passing through the main EU-27 ports in both the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2012 remained significantly lower than the levels recorded before the start of the economic downturn (in the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2008).
EU ports activity
By direction, type of cargo, reporting country, main partner geographical area
In the 2nd quarter of 2012, outward movements of goods from the main EU-27 ports increased by 3.2 %, while inward movements decreased by 4.9 % compared with the same quarter of 2011. Compared with the 1st quarter of 2012, the tonnages of inwards and outwards goods handled in the main EU-27 ports increased with about the same percentage (+0.6 % and +0.7 %, respectively). As in previous quarters, inwards goods made up a little more than 60 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU-27 ports in the 2nd quarter of 2012.
The overall increase in the total tonnage of goods handled in the main EU-27 ports between the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2012 was the result of rises in dry bulk goods (+6.2 %) and Ro-Ro mobile units (+2.2 %, partly offset by decreases in liquid bulk (-0.9 %) and other general cargo (-9.6 %). Compared with the 2nd quarter of 2011 the gross weight of goods transported in liquid bulk, dry bulk and Ro-Ro mobile units all decreased substantially. However, the gross weight of containerised goods handled in the main EU-27 ports grew slightly in the 2nd quarter of 2012, compared with both the previous quarter and with the 2nd quarter of 2011.
The fall in the total amount of goods handled in European ports in the 2nd quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter of 2011 resulted from reduced port activity in half of the reporting countries. Both France and Estonia recorded drops of more than 20 % compared with the same quarter of the previous year, while Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Finland reported decreases in port activity of more than 10 %. Greece, on the other hand, reported an increase of more than 30 % compared with the level recorded one year earlier. Bulgaria, Malta, the Netherlands and Romania recorded increases of more than 10 %.
The largest maritime freight transport countries in Europe in the 2nd quarter of 2012 were the Netherlands, UK, Italy and Spain, all handling more than 100 million tonnes of gross weight of goods in the quarter.
The volume of deep sea shipping decreased between the 2nd quarter of 2012 and the corresponding quarter of 2011, but increased compared with the previous quarter. Except for transport with Africa, there were falls in maritime transport with all main partner geographical areas in the 2nd quarter of 2012 compared with the 2nd 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 by far the EU’s largest extra-EU maritime transport partner, followed by the USA, Brazil, Norway, China, Turkey and Egypt.
There were substantial decreases in inwards movements of crude oil from Egypt, Norway and Turkey in the 2nd quarter of 2012 compared with the 2nd quarter of 2011. Inwards movements of oil products from the Baltic Sea region of Russia also fell. In contrast, inwards movements of crude oil from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia grew.
Inwards movements of coal from the East Coast of the United States of America (USA) grew substantially compared with the same quarter of the previous year, while outwards movements of oil products to the East Coast of the USA fell. Outwards movements of oil products to Gibraltar and outwards movements of containers to China and Turkey grew substantially in the 2nd quarter of 2012.
Following the uprising in February 2011, maritime transport between Libya and the EU-27 countries was reduced virtually to zero. However, in the 2nd quarter of 2012 inward movements of crude oil from Libya were up to about two thirds of the level recorded two years earlier (in the 2nd quarter of 2010).
Top European ports
Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, recorded a considerable increase in the total gross weight of goods handled in the 2nd quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Among the other top 5 ports in Europe, Amsterdam and Hamburg reported increases in port activity compared with the 2nd quarter of 2011, while Antwerpen and Marseille recorded declines. Except for Marseilles, the level of goods handled in the top 5 EU ports were clearly above the levels recorded at the height of the economic downturn in the 2nd quarter of 2009.
Rotterdam is currently the major European port for all types of cargo except Ro-Ro mobile units. In the 2nd quarter of 2012 Rotterdam recorded substantial increases in the volumes of liquid bulk cargo, containerised cargo and Ro-Ro cargo compared with the previous year, partly offset by a decrease in the volumes of dry bulk cargo. Among the other largest EU ports, increases were recorded in Amsterdam in the handling of both liquid and dry bulk and in Hamburg in the handling of dry bulk. Against this, Marseilles recorded a substantial decrease in the handling of liquid bulk compared with the 2nd quarter of 2011.
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-27 aggregates refer to the total of 22 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. Croatia provides data as an acceding state to the EU. Turkey provides data 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 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 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 2012 compared to the four quarters ending Q2 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 2nd 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.
- The figures for number of TEUs handled in the Spanish port of Valencia in 2012 are subject to revision and are currently not being disseminated. In consequence, the data for Spain for 2012 are provisional and will be revised.
- The figures for port activity in the Netherlands in 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