Container traffic growth at the leading European cargo port, Rotterdam, lagged heavily behind that of Belgian rival Antwerp during the first nine months of 2015.
Rotterdam’s container throughput increased just 1% to 9.30 million teu during the first three quarters, while Antwerp’s rose a buoyant 8% to 7.27 million teu.
By volume, Rotterdam’s containerised tonnage edged up 0.2% to 95.91 million tonnes, while Antwerp’s climbed 5.4% to 85.48 million tonnes.
The Rotterdam port authority blamed the lacklustre performance on fewer Chinese exports, a slowdown in the growth of emerging economies such as Brazil, and the deteriorating state of the Russian economy.
It said growth had also been held back by the limited performance of its new Maasvlakte 2 container terminals, which were not yet operating at sufficient speed to handle large volumes, leaving the port’s Maasvlakte 1 terminals with high occupancy levels.
Antwerp claimed that it was winning market share on all trade routes, even those serving Asia, which it said had shown 6.2% growth during the first nine months.
This “is all the more remarkable in view of the declining volumes on the trading routes to and from the Far East”, it said.
Antwerp’s total throughput, including all traffic categories, increased by 5.5% to 156.52 million tonnes during the period, driven by growth in containers but also by a 7.9% increase in liquid bulks.
The port authority said that it expected to close the year with an all-time record traffic total of around 200 million tonnes.
Rotterdam’s total throughput showed a 5.4% increase to 351.47 million tonnes, which port chief executive Allard Castelein said was almost entirely accounted for by higher volumes of crude oil and oil products.