By Janny Kok in Rotterdam

There was good news and bad news as Europe’s largest ocean gateway reported its half-year figures. The upside is that the port of Rotterdam’s market share in the Hamburg-Le Havre range grew by 0.3 per cent to 38.3 per cent, but there was a 3 per cent decline in goods handled.

“We need to embrace the changing economic environment and anticipate further changes,” said Port of Rotterdam Authority Chief Executive Allard Castelein. He forecast that Rotterdam’s volumes would not decline dramatically in the remaining months of this year. Mr. Castelein claimed the market share of Antwerp was 17.4 per cent, Hamburg 11.4 per cent and Le Havre 5.2 per cent.

Although container throughput at Rotterdam had dropped 2.3 per cent, from 6.23 million TEUs in the first six months of last year to 6.09 million TEUs this year, Mr. Castelein said there would be a modest increase for the full year – despite the fact that the 2M alliance of MSC and Maersk had shifted some calls to Antwerp. “This is proof that Antwerp is performing well,” he said, but added that Rotterdam was prepared to win the lost 2M calls back.

“The congestion we suffered is over now that the new terminals at Maasvlakte 2 are fully commercially operational. The testing phases of the fully automated Rotterdam World Gate terminal and that of APMT have been concluded, and the paperless transition of containers between terminals at Maasvlakte is satisfactory. Besides all that, our port’s portfolio differs from Antwerp’s.”

The new Maasvlakte 2 terminals handled 300,000 TEUs in the period and are expected to push their joint throughput up to 1.5 million TEUs by the end of the year. Mr. Castelein said trade and industry in the port needed to face up to changes in society and economy – such as the Paris climate agreement, the low oil price (although he expects prices to increase from an average of $37 per barrel to about $50), the Brexit referendum and the increasing size of container vessels. Other “black swans” he mentioned were talks to close coal power plants and automation within society at large.

Rotterdam Port Authority has drawn up an annual investment budget of €150m-€200m for the next few years.

Reprinted courtesy of The Loadstar (