North Range container handling prospects 2014: growth for everyone after a weak overall performance in 2013
Looking forward, Ben Hackett of Hackett Associates warns: "As the ECB cuts its interest rate to 0.5 per cent (...), the demand side of the equation is firmly in the hands of the consumer". Still, the growth of container trade (as opposed to the handling which also includes empties and transhipment) is expected to accelerate in 2014 for both imports (2013: +2.2 %; 2014f: +3.9 %) and exports (2013: +1.6 %; 2014f: +3.4 %).
Looking at the total level of boxes handled in the ports (including those that are empty or transhipment), ISL's economist Dr. Sönke Maatsch predicts that all in all, the North Range ports will be handling 3.3 % more TEUs in 2014, finally breaking the 40 million TEU threshold driven by a more robust economic performance.
The handling growth will appear at different paces though. Hackett Associates and ISL expect that the Belgian ports Antwerp and Zeebrugge will be able to defend most of the market shares gained during the course of 2013, hence growing at rates of 7.1 % respectively 7.6 %. The ports of Rotterdam, Le Havre and Bremerhaven are expected to grow but at rates below 1 %. Rotterdam is expected to re-conquer some of the market shares it has lost during 2013 with the opening of the Rotterdam World Gateway in the second half of the year. Last but not least, Hamburg is more or less expected to grow in line with the market average: 3.4 %. "All in all, the considerable shifts of volumes between ports that make forecasting so difficult show that capacity utilization is still comparatively low", concludes Maatsch.
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