Rotterdam still top port at 14.3 million TEU despite 3.2pc decline
THE Port of Rotterdam clung to its title as Europe's busiest container port, despite a 3.2 per cent year on year decline in throughput to 14.3 million TEU in 2020.
This kept the Dutch gateway ahead of its chief Belgian rival, the Port of Antwerp, despite its year-on-year 1.3 per cent increase in container throughput to 12 million TEU for the first time.
"In an exceptional year, the Port of Rotterdam was fully operational, allowing goods and raw materials to continue finding their way to consumers and businesses," said Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO Allard Castelein.
A strong second-half recovery at the Port of Rotterdam partially offset the sharp drop in demand in the first six months of 2020, but was unable to prevent full-year volume declining 3.2 per cent to 14.34 million TEU.
Rotterdam reported a seven per cent decline in first-half volume to seven million TEU, but a resurgent Chinese economy and rising demand in Europe saw volume in the third quarter of 2020 recover.
First half decline followed by second half recovery, full or partial, was often repeated. The Haropa ports of Le Havre, Rouen, and Paris handled 2.4 million TEU in 2020, down 14 per cent in the first half, but rebounded in the summer with December being the best month of the year.
European demand has shown some signs of slowing in the last few weeks, with volumes pulling back in December and spot rates coming down from record highs in January. However, carriers and forwarders have warned shippers to expect disruption to continue at least through the first half.