Flat growth for world ports in 2019

With regards to the ports, Rotterdam is “the clear winner” this year, according to Mr Hackett Photo: Frans Berkelaar/flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0 With regards to the ports, Rotterdam is “the clear winner” this year, according to Mr Hackett Photo: Frans Berkelaar/flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
Industry Database

Next year’s volumes for ports in north Europe are expected to be no more than this year’s volumes for both exports and imports.

That’s according to Port Strategy columnist Ben Hackett, writing in an editorial piece for his company Hackett Associates’ Global Port Tracker: North Europe for November, published with the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL).

The prediction was for the Port of Hamburg, the Ports of Bremen, the Port of Rotterdam, the Port of Antwerp, the Port of Zeebrugge and the Port of Le Havre, with Mr Hackett claiming that this opinion matches the leading indicators driving the report’s models.

“When we look at the GDP projections for the Euro area from different sources, we see the World Bank at 1.7%, the IMF at 2% and the European Commission at 2.1%,” he said.

“As we know, forecasting GDP is notoriously inaccurate, with constant revisions, but the story here is that growth under 2% is not enough to expand the economies sufficiently to take the pressure off governments to allow them to lower taxes and increase infrastructure expenditures.”

Port forecast

With regards to the ports, the market share-struggle goes on, Mr Hackett said, adding that this year, Rotterdam is “the clear winner”.

Hamburg is still struggling in the face of growing direct calls in the Baltic and weak Russian trade, and although the carriers are managing to control supply, thus finding some rate relief, this relief is not much.

Additionally, Mr Hackett also noted that “the whiff of collusion fears is noticeable in Brussels”.

According to the ISL’s Sönke Maatsch, world trade has been trapped, to a certain extent, at the same level for the last number of months.

Following seasonal adjustment, there was a complete standstill in spring and summer after continuous growth for two years, and like in 2014/2015, it is not because of a lack of economic growth — instead, globalisation appears to lose momentum so that container trade growth is disconnected from world GDP growth.

The “North Range ports” still see a slight but decelerating growth, Mr Maatsch added.

“In 2019, neither a dip nor an acceleration of growth are excluded, but the most likely scenario seems to be a sideward movement with slight growth.

“In the meantime, the growth forecast for 2018 of around 2.6% to 2.7% has been confirmed by rather solid Q3 figures from the major ports.”

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