Port of Rotterdam Sees Decline in Total Traffic

Bulk Cargo Slump Offsets Container Growth; Energy Prices and Sectoral Declines Impact Industrial Trade


During the first quarter of the year, the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest in terms of cargo volume, witnessed a decline in its overall traffic, largely attributed to bulk cargo, despite an increase in container traffic. Container traffic, however, experienced an ascent for the first time in the past three years, with the Port of Rotterdam recording 3.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), marking a 2% growth compared to the first quarter of 2023.

In total, the port handled 110.1 million tons of cargo in the initial three months of 2024, positioning it 1.4% below the figures from the previous year. The Dutch port authority attributes this decline primarily to decreased traffic in coal, crude oil, and petroleum products.

Boudewijn Siemons, CEO of the Dutch port, emphasized that the first-quarter traffic figures “indicate limited imports of raw materials and exports of finished products,” signaling the continued impact of high energy prices and sluggish demand in key declining sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and automotive industries on European industrial production.

In January and February, the port experienced a decrease in the number of vessels (-24.5%) and volume from Asia (-13.7%) due to logistical disruptions stemming from the situation in the Red Sea. Despite this, “global freight demand has hardly been affected,” as stated by officials from the Dutch port.

March witnessed a turnaround, with an increase in vessels (+11.5%) and a recovery in volumes from Asia. Siemons noted that with the growth in container traffic, “the first signs of global trade recovery are emerging.”

In the realm of solid bulk, traffic decreased by 4.5% compared to the first three months of the previous year, primarily due to a decline in coal traffic, handling two million tons less than the previous year due to low demand. Additionally, the agricultural products segment also contributed to the slowdown in solid bulk port traffic, experiencing a decrease of 23.9%.

Liquid bulk traffic also faced challenges this quarter, declining by 3.1% to 52.6 million tons. The primary cause of this decline was the reduction in traffic of crude oil, mineral oil products, and other liquid bulk. “Demand for petroleum products this quarter was lower than in the first quarter of 2023, when there were many imports to replace Russian petroleum products,” explained port authorities. LNG was the only liquid bulk category that experienced growth, increasing by 3.6% to 9.1 million tons.

| | |

Last news