Container port market outlook

Container trade in the eastern Baltic is still on the up Container trade in the eastern Baltic is still on the up
Industry Database

A new study from Ocean Shipping Consultants (OSC), part of Royal HaskoningDHV, indicates a positive outlook for the containerport market up until 2025, despite short term uncertainty.

The study, called North European Containerport markets to 2025, shows that total demand in the North Europe containerport market reached 57.9m teu in 2011, an increase of 22% since 2009, with the eastern Baltic seeing particular growth.

Isabelle Griffith, senior consultant, OSC, said to Port Strategy: “Growth in the eastern Baltic has been rapid due to strong economic recovery in the countries served - notably Russia at 4.3% in 2010 and 2011 and Poland at 3.9% in 2010 and 4.4% in 2011. Sweden also grew strongly - 5.8% in 2010 and 4.0% in 2011."

She added: "The reason is that these countries are not in the Eurozone, nor are they experiencing the financial difficulties and consequent demand constraints of many countries in western Europe. Poland and, to a lesser extent, Russia, is also exporting increasing volumes.”

The structure of regional demand is changing, according to OSC. Transhipment demand is increasing and deep-sea calling patterns are being altered, especially with the emergence of direct deep-sea services in the eastern Baltic, and associated scope for transhipment hubbing within the region.

And it says there are other challenges affecting the industry, inland transport costs are increasing rapidly and this, together with increasing environmental pressures, is highlighting the need for intermodal transport solutions and intermodal contractual commitments to be included at the centre of investment planning.

Other issues noted in the study include pressures caused by post-Panamax vessels such as water depth and consignment size handling issues, which affect a port's competitive position. Also, the fact that the container shipping market is still in crisis, with severe overcapacity resulting in lines recording huge losses. The position of the lines as customers and as users of North European container terminals is still generating considerable uncertainty.

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