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Rotterdam container volumes exceed pre-pandemic levels

Port of Rotterdam has seen its container volumes surpass the pre-pandemic levels during the first nine months of the year.

From January until September, container traffic in the busiest European port has been increased by almost 8%, with more than 11.5 million TEU handled and a 4% increase in tonnes, totalling 116.864.

"The faster rise in TEU than in tonnes happens for a number of reasons, including the fact that the increase in the throughput of empty containers had a minor effect," explains the Port of Rotterdam Authority. "The largest effect, however, came from the sharp fall in the average weight of full containers."

Additionally, transportation prices have risen sharply in recent quarters and consequently, the transportation of relatively heavy, low-value, goods declined. This effect was strongest in the case of export containers but it was also seen in imports, according to a statement.

Imports at the port of Rotterdam reached 6 million TEU during the January - September period, representing a year-on-year increase of 8,6%, while exports registered a 7% growth, completing more than 5.5 million TEU.

At the same time, the number of containers transferred through the port was 116.864, reflecting a boost of 4% over the first nine months of the previous year.

"Consumers are spending generously and the economy is recovering from the downtrend caused by Covid-19 in 2020, with volumes being higher than in 2019," commented the port authority.

Large trade development in the port is observed particularly in iron ore and scrap metal (42%), coal (48.4%), biomass (18.7%) and mineral oil products (13.5%), according to a report for the first-nine-months period.

"This strong demand, in combination with various disruptions in 2021, such as the Suez blockage and Covid-19 related outbreaks in Chinese ports, means that pressure on the logistics chain continues to be high, which also entails persistently high transportation prices," said the port in its announcement.

During the third quarter of the year, goods throughput in the port of Rotterdam rose to 118.5 million tonnes, reflecting a growth of more than 14% over the same period last year. Throughput was 350.1 million tonnes from January until September, which translates to an increase of 8.6% compared to 2020.

"These quarterly figures show that the economy is continuing its upward path. However, the extent to which growth will continue also depends on how fast acute shortages in some links of the logistics chain can be reduced," noted Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

"Nevertheless, the port of Rotterdam wants to facilitate this growth as much as possible and is investing in the transition to a more sustainable energy system, with more green hydrogen and lower carbon emissions," added Castelein.

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