Finally and unequivocally we can say that the EU economy has recovered and appears to be on the road for strong growth for this year and possibly into 2018.


The IMF projects UK GDP growth for the year to be 1.7 per cent, with major Eurozone economies such as Germany at 1.8 per cent; France at 1.5 per cent; Italy at 1.3 per cent; and Spain at 3.1 per cent.   All good news for trade.


The North Europe Global Port Tracker forecast for 2017 projects a 5.9 per cent increase in total laden imports to Europe, with 24.4 million TEUs.  North Europe is projected to increase by 3.7 per cent to 15.4 million TEUs, while the Med-Black Sea region is projected to surge by 10.0 per cent to 9 million TEUs.


Export in 2017 are projected to have a 6.8 per cent increase for Europe, with a total of 20.6 million TEUs, with North Europe increasing by 4.2 per cent to 12.8 million TEUs and the Med-Black Sea region surging by 11.4 per cent to 7.8 million TEUs.


For the six ports monitored in North Europe, the forecast for loaded incoming volumes in 2017 is a 6.0 per cent increase to 17.3 million TEUs. Total incoming volumes are projected to increase to 21.3 million TEUs, for a 4.0 per cent gain.


The forecast for loaded outgoing volumes in 2017 is for a 5.1 per cent increase over 2016 with 18.31 million TEUs. Total outgoing volumes are forecast to increase to 21.08 million TEUs in 2017, a 3.3 per cent gain. (Note that this does not include the UK volumes).


We expect Rotterdam to benefit the most from the increased volume of traffic as the three alliances focus their transshipment hubs there, with the exception of MSC, which uses Antwerp.  The Port of Le Havre is also projected to see a very strong comeback for the rest of this year.


Looking forward, Ben Hackett of Hackett Associates warns: “There are some risks on the horizon, one of which is the excessive government expenditure and debt in China, which if dealt with will cause that economy to grow closer to five per cent, down from nearly seven per cent this year.  That would impact European exports.”


Mr Tasto of the ISL, looking at mergers and acquisitions notes “that the process of consolidation is still not over although carriers will  find the needed global approval seems to be getting moe difficult and the complaints from other elements of the supply chain about the negotiation power of the carriers (and their alliances) are becoming much louder. “


The North Europe Global Port Tracker is published by Hackett Associates and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL).


The Global Port Tracker: North Europe Trade Outlook  provides a six-month projection plus an additional two quarter forecast of inbound and outbound container movements in TEUs for the region’s six major container ports – Le Havre, Zeebrugge, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremen/Bremerhaven and Hamburg.


Hackett Associates LLC provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions.